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TSX advances on positive earnings news

Canadian stocks were slightly higher Thursday amid another heavy slate of earnings news in Canada and the U.S.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 10.7 points to 14,544.09.The Canadian dollar rose 0.07 of a cent to 90.72 cents US.U.S. indexes were mixed, with the Dow Jones industrials down 3.78 points to 16,497.87 despite well-received earnings reports from General Motors and Caterpillar.The Nasdaq jumped 20.39 points to 4,147.36 as Facebook and Apple blew past expectations while the S&P 500 index gained 2.92 points to 1,878.31.In Canada, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (TSX:POT) posted quarterly net income of US$340 million or 40 cents a share, compared to 63 cents per share, or US$556 million, in the same period last year. The company’s guidance was for between 30 and 35 cents per share and its shares gained 41 cents to $38.76.Domtar Corp. (TSX:UFS) had quarterly net income of US$39 million or $1.20 a share. Ex-items, Domtar’s adjusted profit — reported in U.S. currency — was $1.29 per share for the quarter. Analysts had estimated $1.76 per share of adjusted earnings and $1.46 per share of net income for the quarter. Sales totalled US$1.394 billion, up from US$1.345 billion a year earlier. Its shares were off 44 cents to $106.75.General Motors says first-quarter profit fell 86 per cent to $125 million or six cents a share as a series of recalls dragged down its earnings. It was GM’s worst quarterly performance since it posted a net loss after leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009. Excluding one-time items, GM made 29 cents per share, far above analyst estimates of three cents per share and GM shares were up 61 cents to US$35.Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings climbed five per cent to $922 million, or $1.44 per share. Earnings totaled $1.61 per share, excluding restructuring costs. Total revenue was nearly flat at $13.24 billion. Analysts forecast earnings of $1.21 per share on $13.09 billion in revenue. Caterpillar shares are up $2.78 to $106.16.After the close Wednesday, Facebook posted earnings ex-items of 34 cents a share versus the 24 cents that analysts expected. Revenue of $2.5 billion beat estimates of $2.36. The stock climbed $1.15 to $62.51.Shares in Apple Inc. jumped $39.25 or 7.48 per cent to $564 after the company announced Wednesday that it was increasing its dividend by eight per cent to $3.29 per share and that it will buy back an additional US$30 billion of its stock. Quarterly earnings rose seven per cent to $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per share, while revenue climbed by five per cent to $45.6 billion. The company also will execute a seven-for-one stock split in early June.Commodity prices were mixed as May copper ran up five cents to US$3.11 a pound and the base metals sector edged up 0.15 per cent.Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine pushed June crude in New York up 63 cents to US$102.07 a barrel. The energy sector rose 0.1 per cent.The gold sector was the leading decliner, down 1.2 per cent as June bullion moved down $9.90 to US$1,274.70 an ounce.Newspaper reports suggested that Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) has formally asked Newmont Mining Corp. to resume merger talks after their negotiations hit an impasse late last week. Other sources have said the North American-based gold miners had come close to agreeing on an all-stock deal, but their discussions broke down over which assets to spin out from the combined company.

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