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At midday: TSX rises amid positive earnings, consumer data

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with the BlackBerry logo as he pose with a Blackberry Q10 in this file photo.

© Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Positive earnings news and data showing improved consumer confidence in the U.S. helped push the Toronto stock market higher Tuesday.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 38.06 points to 15,483.28.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.35 of a cent to 92.24 cents (U.S.).

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U.S. markets turned mainly lower amid reports that the European Union had agreed on new sanctions on Russia that would target the oil industry.

New York's Dow Jones industrials dipped 1.41 points to 16,981.18, the Nasdaq gained 5.98 points to 4,450.89 and the S&P 500 index added 2.08 points to 1,976.83.

Indexes had advanced after the U.S. Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 90.9 in July from 85.2 in the prior month. It's the highest level since October 2007.

"But is confidence manifesting itself in behavior? That's the question," said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer, asset allocation, BMO Global Asset Management Canada.

"We're not seeing that," Taylor said.

WestJet was a major gainer on the TSX, up $1.33 (Canadian) or 4.85 per cent to $28.75 as the airline beat forecasts for profit and revenue as it posted net earnings of $51.8-million, or 40 cents per share, up from $44.7-million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 10.3 per cent to $930.7-million.

George Weston Ltd. reported a quarterly net loss of $208-million, or $1.71 per share, compared with a net profit of $97-million, or 68 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013 as it digests the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart by subsidiary Loblaws. Total sales were $10.59-billion compared with $7.52-billion year-over-year and its shares advanced $1.31 to $87.14.

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And Talisman Energy posted a surprise loss of $237-million, or 23 cents per share, compared with a profit $97-million, or nine cents, per share in the same quarter of 2013. Its shares added seven cents to $11.79.

It is a very heavy week for Canadian corporate earnings news with the accent on the resource sector with several big names from the energy and gold mining sectors reporting, including heavyweights Barrick Gold, Suncor Energy and Cenovus Energy.

However, with the energy sector up almost 20 per cent, further gains could be elusive.

"I think with oil trading around $100, with all the geopolitical risk out there keeping the oil price firm, that most of the good news is already in the energy name," added Taylor.

A major decliner in New York was Herbalife Ltd. The seller of supplements and weight loss products on Monday reported profit that decreased by 17 per cent in its second quarter, and missed analysts' expectations. Its shares plunged 11.5 per cent to $59.72 (U.S.).

In other corporate developments, BlackBerry will acquire anti-eavesdropping security firm SecuSmart for an undisclosed amount. The German company provides high-level voice and data encryption for governments, businesses and telecommunications service providers. Its shares were unchanged at $10.75.

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The base metals sector edged up 0.75 per cent while September copper eased two cents to $3.23 a pound.

The TSX energy sector gained 0.17 per cent with the September crude contract in New York down $1.24 to $100.43 a barrel.

The gold sector declined 0.1 per cent as August bullion faded $5.70 to $1,297.60 an ounce.

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