Canadian stocks will look to extend this week's gains Friday morning after closing the previous session at a fresh 3-month high, led by tech and financial shares. However, early signals are mixed, with traders reacting to tame inflation figures and key earnings results from bellwethers Citigroup and General Electric.
On Thursday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index added 97.26 points or 1.05% to close at 9,343.37.
The pace of Canadian inflation slowed in March as higher food costs were offset by less expensive gasoline and automobiles, according to data released Friday by Statistics Canada.
Canadian consumer prices rose 1.2% in the 12 months to March 2009, down from the 1.4% increase in February. The upward pressure on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) came primarily from two sources: higher food and shelter costs.
In corporate news, UTS Energy (UTS.TO: News ) said its board rejected a sweetened bid by Total S.A. (TOT: News , TTFNF.PK) to acquire UTS for C$1.75 per share, indicating that the offer was inadequate.
Dennis Sharp, Chairman of the Board said, The revised bid in no way reflects improving industry fundamentals, remains lower than the sum of UTS' cash and remaining earn-in and attributes no value to our excellent and expanding suite of oil sands assets.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY, RY.TO) said Thursday that it expects to record a goodwill impairment charge of about US$850 million on both a pre and after tax basis for the second quarter, reflecting the impact of prolonged challenging economic conditions that have affected its International Banking reporting unit.
On Wall Street, Citigroup reported first-quarter net profit of $1.59 billion, compared to a net loss of $5.11 billion in the same quarter of last year.
Loss available to common shareholders for the quarter narrowed to $966 million or $0.18 per share, from $5.19 billion or $1.03 per share in the year ago quarter.
Elsewhere, General Electric reported first-quarter net earnings attributable to the company of $2.81 billion, compared to $4.3 billion last year.
Earnings from continuing operations attributable to GE were $2.8 billion, down 35% from $4.4 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.
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