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At the open: TSX flat ahead of earnings, economic data

A plane flies over a Bombardier plant in Montreal, January 21, 2014. The Montreal-based company is shifting from its two units of Bombardier Aerospace and Bombardier Transporation – each of which reported to chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin – to four units that will report directly to Mr. Beaudoin

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

The Toronto stock market started the week little changed as positive Chinese industrial data failed to lift commodity prices and traders braced for a heavy week of corporate and economic data.

The S&P/TSX composite index inched up 3.43 points to 15,458.47.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.02 of a cent at 92.49 cents (U.S.).

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New York indexes were lower as the Dow Jones industrials moved down 9.48 points at 16,951.09, the Nasdaq declined 3.57 points to 4,445.99 and the S&P 500 index dipped 0.76 of a point to 1,977.58.

Government data out Sunday showed a 17.9 per cent surge in net income last month compared to a year ago at China`s largest industrial concerns. The gain outpaced an 8.9 per cent increase in May, but some of the improvement was due to statistical distortion.

The second-quarter Canadian earnings season picks up momentum this week with data coming in primarily from the gold mining and energy sectors. Those two are the best performing sectors on the TSX year to date with energy up 19 per cent while the gold sector is up 28 per cent, but that's after being cut in half last year.

Outside those sectors, traders will consider reports from transportation giant Bombardier on Thursday. The stock is close to its 52-week low of $3.44 (Canadian) and investors will be looking to the report and analyst call for indications on the development of the company's crucial CSeries airliner, which has been beset by a series of delays.

Two companies in the TSX utilities segment reported earnings Monday.

Canadian Utilities Ltd. posted second-quarter earnings attributable to shareholders of $115-million or 39 cents a share, compared with $160-million or 59 cents a share a year ago. Adjusted earnings of $85-million in the quarter compared with $131-million year-over-year. Parent company Atco Ltd. reported second-quarter adjusted earnings of $57-million in 2014 compared with $89-million in 2013. Canadian Utilities dipped four cents to $40.12 while Atco declined 14 cents to $50.42.

The data calendar for Canada is light this week with only one major report. Statistics Canada posts May gross domestic product figures on Thursday. Economists looked for a 0.3 per cent gain for the month.

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In the U.S. traders will look to second quarter GDP data out Tuesday. Growth is expected to come in at an annualized pace of three per cent after severe winter weather was mainly responsible for a 2.9 per cent contraction in the first quarter.

The Federal Reserve makes its scheduled announcement on interest rates on Wednesday. Traders will look for clues about whether the Fed could move on hiking rates earlier than the middle of 2015, which is generally expected.

And on Friday, the U.S. government releases its employment report for July. Economists expect that about 230,000 jobs were created during the month.

The TSX base metals sector led TSX advancers, up 0.54 per cent while September copper was unchanged at $3.24 (U.S) a pound.

The gold sector improved by 0.17 per cent as August bullion faded 60 cents to $1,302.70 an ounce.

The energy sector was flat as September crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 82 cents to $101.27 a barrel.

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There was also major acquisition activity in the U.S. where Dollar Tree is buying rival discount store Family Dollar in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $8.5-billion.

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