TSX heads for lower open, traders look to earnings, economic news

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market appeared heading for a lower open Tuesday as investors looked to a heavy slate of earnings and economic data.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.27 of a cent as the U.S. dollar found strength from a much better than expected read on March retail sales on Monday.

U.S. futures were mixed with the Dow Jones industrial futures up eight points to 16,104, the Nasdaq futures rose seven points to 3,477.3 and the S&P 500 added 2.25 points to 1,826,75.

Coca-Cola earnings beat expectations as the beverage giant said its first-quarter profit fell to US$1.62 billion, or 36 cents a share, from $1.75 billion, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. Adjusted per-share earnings fell to 44 cents while net operating revenues fell to $10.58 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 44 cents on revenue of $10.55 billion. Coca-Cola shares rose 1.6 per cent in pre market trade.

Also, drug company Johnson&Johnson reported earnings per share of $1.54, seven cents better than analyst forecasts while revenue of $18.115 billion beat forecasts of $17.996 billion. It shares ran up two per cent in pre market trading.

Intel and Yahoo report earnings after the close.

On the economic front, investors looked ahead to the release of first quarter economic growth figures from China due Wednesday. China’s leaders are targeting growth of 7.5 per cent this year for the world’s second-biggest economy. But exports and imports have been weak in the first quarter, suggesting the economy is slowing and raising the risk of job losses. China’s growth of 7.7 per cent last year tied 2012 for the slowest since 1999.

On Tuesday, investors will also take in the latest reading of a widely watched manufacturing gauge for the U.S. Northeast, the Empire State manufacturing index.

In other corporate news, HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) has moved to block a shareholder rights plan at Augusta Resource Corp. (TSX:AZC) which HudBay is trying to acquire in a hostile takeover bid. HudBay has asked the British Columbia Securities Commission to cease trade the shareholder rights plan before its takeover offer expires on May 5. It says Augusta has had more than 60 days since the offer was announced and has failed to produce an alternative.

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) is laying off some 400 employees, or about three per cent of its workforce, as it works to consolidate operations. The company says that the changes will be focused on rearranging the structure of its cable, satellite, Internet and home phone services to make them more efficient.

Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) has filed a preliminary prospectus for spinning off a portion of its assets into a separate publicly traded business, to be called PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. The Calgary-based natural gas producer expects to own a majority interest in PrairieSky, but precise details of the stake weren’t disclosed in the prospectus.

The rising U.S. dollar helped depress commodity prices. A stronger greenback makes it more expensive for holders of other currencies to buy oil and metals which are dollar-denominated.

May crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 86 cents to US$103.19 a barrel.

May copper was down three cents to US$3.01 a pound while June bullion fell $24.60 to US$1,302.90 an ounce.

European bourses were mixed with London's FTSE 100 added 0.01 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX lost 0.28 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 rose 0.4 per cent.


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