The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday as a worse-than-expected reading on the American non-manufacturing sector trumped a slew of strong earnings reports.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gave back 132.40 points, or 1.1%, to reach noon at 12,097.72, with the markets also weighed down by Research In Motion as the BlackBerry maker's stock sold off for a third day, down 50 cents to $12.13.
RIM has lost about 5% over each of the last two sessions after RIM rolled out its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The Canadian dollar shed 0.09 cents to 101.29 cents U.S.
Manulife Financial Corp. had a $1.2-billion profit in the first quarter, a 22 per cent jump from a year ago. It attributed the improvement to a number of special items as well as strong operational performance in Canada and Asia.
The profit amounted to 66 cents per share before dilution, up from 54 cents per share or $985 million in the first quarter of 2011 and much higher than the 36 cents a share that analysts expected. Its shares gained 15 cents to $13.94.
Shares in media giant BCE Inc. gave back 10 cents to $40.20 as the company reported $574 million in profit in the first quarter before adjustments, a 14.1 per cent increase from the same time last year. Adjusted profit was $580 million, or 75 cents per common share, which was three cents a share ahead of analyst estimates.
Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu has reported improved results in its fiscal fourth quarter that beat analyst estimates on both profit and revenue. Net earnings were $62 million or 28 cents per share, compared with $46.5 million or 20 cents in the same 2011 period. Revenue was $737.2 million, up from $659.8 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had been for earnings of 24 cents per share on $673 million of revenue and its shares climbed 35 cents to $14.55.
Gildan Activewear Inc. is acquiring T-shirt maker and distributor Anvil Holdings Inc. for $88 million U.S. The Montreal-based company also reported a $26.9-million U.S. net profit, or 22 cents per share, before adjustments. That's down from the same time last year but better than Gildan's guidance of 20 cents per share. However, its shares slipped 86 cents to $27.60.
After the markets closed Wednesday, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said it earned $1.34 billion U.S. or $2.82 a share in its latest quarter boosted by the sale of its assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That was up from a profit of $206.7 million, or 48 cents per share a year ago. However, its shares lost 19 cents to $19.82.
Among gold plays, Barrick Gold Corp. was down 89 cents to $37.91.
Other commodity prices were soft with the July copper contract slipping five cents to $3.74 U.S. a pound, taking the base metals sector down one per cent. HudBay Minerals fell 12 cents to $10.25.
The energy sector was off, as Suncor Energy gave back 55 cents to $31.69.
The TSX Venture Exchange retreated 12.73 points to 1,418.48, while the Nasdaq Canada fell 12.81 points to 396.21.
All but one of the 14 subgroups faded. Health-care stocks tumbled 3.7%, while gold lost 3.3% and materials dipped 2.5%.
Real-estate stocks inched up 0.1%, the lone holdout.
Stocks dipped Thursday, following a report that showed that the service sector expanded at the slowest pace of the year last month, and as investors remained cautious ahead of Friday's monthly jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrials ducked down 45.78 points to break for lunch at 13,222.79.
The S&P 500 dipped 7.26 points to 1,395.05.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 27.85 to 3,032.
Investors also continued to sort through a deluge of first-quarter corporate results.
Prudential Financial's 8% tumble made it the worst performing stock on the S&P 500. Late Wednesday, the company posted a first-quarter loss of almost $1 billion U.S.
Shares of General Motors fell more than 2% after the auto maker reported strong first-quarter earnings on good results in its domestic market, but took a hit on its bottom line from rising losses and special charges in Europe.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was the biggest lose on the Nasdaq, as shares plummeted more than 40%. The company reported quarterly revenue that missed estimates and lowered its guidance for 2012.
Shares of online reviews site Yelp slipped after the company reported a net loss of $9.8 million U.S., or 31 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2012 -- its first as a publicly traded company. Yelp is in the process of investing in international expansion.
Coming after the bell on Thursday, AIG, Kraft and LinkedIn are due to report results.
Private equity firm The Carlyle Group priced its IPO Wednesday evening at $22 U.S. per unit, which was lower than its proposed $23 to $25 per unit range. That means the firm raised around $671 million U.S., and has an initial market capitalization of nearly $6.7 billion U.S. Carlyle will begin trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol CG.
Economically speaking, initial jobless claims for the week ended April 28 totaled 365,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department, which was less than expected.
Jobless claims were forecast to total 375,000, according to a survey of economists by Briefing.com -- an improvement from the revised figure of 392,000 in the week prior.
Economists are forecasting that Friday's report will show employers added 160,000 jobs to payrolls in April, but that the unemployment rate will remain unchanged at 8.2%.
A report on private-sector hiring from payroll processor ADP came in weaker than expected on Wednesday. And Thursday morning, the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that job cuts rose to 40,559 in April -- an increase of 7% from March and of 11% from a year ago.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity dropped to 53.5 last month from 56 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion but the reading was a disappointment to traders who had expected a reading of 55.4.
The ISM's survey covers all sectors outside of manufacturing. That includes retail, construction, financial services, health care, and hotels.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged higher, pushing the yield down to Wednesday's 1.92%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The price of a barrel of oil fell $2.14 to $103.07 U.S.
Gold futures for June delivery dropped $13.20 to $1,641.90 U.S. an ounce.