Canadian stocks will look to extend their modest gains from the previous session, and early signals have turned somewhat positive as Bay Street looked ahead to this week's key developments across the border.
While signs of green shoots for the world's largest economy have spurred big gains for Canadian stocks of late, Bay Street is cautiously awaiting the results of the US government's stress test on banks and the pivotal monthly jobs report.
On Tuesday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index inched up 10.35 points or 0.1% to finish at 9,880.72. This was the best close for the index since November 5, building on big gains from Monday.
Although energy stocks may see some strength on higher oil prices, some profit taking may be in order on Wednesday, with the health of the major US banks still in question.
In earnings news, Agrium Inc. (AGU.TO) reported a first-quarter net loss of US$60 million or US$0.38 per share, compared to net earnings of US$195 million or US$1.23 per share in the same quarter last year.
Excluding items, the company reported net earnings of US$7 million or US$0.04 per share for the quarter.
In the oil patch, Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO) announced that its first quarter earnings applicable to common shareholders were C$558.1 million or C$1.53 per share, compared to C$251.3 million, or C$0.70 per share in the year ago quarter.
Adjusted earnings for the quarter were C$269.4 million or C$0.74 per share, compared to C$238.9 million or C$0.67 per share in the same quarter of last year.
Penn West Energy Trust (PWT_U.TO) announced that its first quarter net loss was C$98 million or C$0.25 per unit-basic, compared to net income of C$78 million or C$0.22 per unit-basic in the first quarter of 2008.
From the tech sector, CGI Group Inc. (GIB.A.TO) reported second-quarter net income of C$77.5 million or C$0.25 per share, compared to C$68.8 million or C$0.21 per share in the same quarter last year.
On average, four analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn C$0.19 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Meanwhile, leading drug maker GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) said it was divesting its U.S. marketing rights for Wellbutrin to Biovail International Laboratories SRL, a subsidiary of Biovail Corp. (BVF, BVF.TO) for $510 million or about GBP 340 million. Wellbutrin is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
Canadian contractors took out $4.5 billion in building permits in March, up 23.5% from February, halting five consecutive monthly declines, according to Statistics Canada. March's increase came mainly from the non-residential sector in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
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