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Toronto stock market jumps 154 points amid solid BCE earnings, U.S. jobs data

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was higher Thursday, supported in part by a well-received earnings report from telecom giant BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) and positive U.S. data that raised hopes for a strong employment report.

The S&P/TSX composite index ran ahead 153.71 points to 13,713.4 as BCE posted quarterly adjusted net earnings of $540 million or 70 cents a share, beating estimates by a penny. BCE also upped its dividend six per cent and its shares gained 93 cents, or 2.05 per cent, to $46.30.

The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.08 of a cent to 90.33 cents US.

U.S. indexes also registered solid gains as jobless insurance claims, viewed as a proxy for layoffs, fell by a greater than expected 20,000 to 331,000 last week.

The data came out a day before the release of the U.S. government's employment report for January. Economists expect that 183,000 jobs were created following a meagre 74,000 gain in December that was largely blamed on the weather.

The Dow Jones industrials jumped 188.3 points to 15,628.53, the Nasdaq gained 45.57 points to 4,057.12 and the S&P 500 index added 21.79 points to 1,773.43 .

Some analysts expressed surprise at the strong run-up.

"Because if (the jobs data are) soft, I think we could see this market could continue to correct," said Stephen Lingard, managing director, Franklin Templeton Multi-Asset Strategies.

It has been volatile on markets over the last few weeks amid worries about emerging markets that are trying to deal with cuts in stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve and some disappointing data that raised concerns about whether economic problems cropping up in those markets can be contained. For example, the Dow industrials had tumbled about 6.2 per cent year to date before Thursday's rebound.

"Or maybe we don’t see as much of a reaction tomorrow because maybe today’s move is basically pre-buying up before tomorrow," added Lingard.

Twitter stock plunged 24 per cent to US$50.03 even as it beat earnings and revenue expectations in its first quarter as a public company. However, the company added just nine million new monthly users, a slowdown from the previous three quarters.

GM shares dipped a penny to US$35.23 as earnings ex-items came in at 67 cents a share, far below the 88 cents expected. Revenue of US$40.5 billion missed forecasts of $41.075 billion.

Elsewhere in Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC) posted adjusted earnings of $172 million, or 86 cents a share, which met expectations, and its shares edged up three cents to C$58.07.

In other corporate news, Bombardier shares (TSX:BBD.B) gained seven cents to $4.20 after the British government said it intends to award a US$1.6-billion contract to the Canadian transport giant to supply trains and a depot for London’s transportation system.

Base metals stocks led advancers, up 2.27 per cent with March copper up four cents at US$3.23 a pound.

The energy sector climbed 1.64 per cent as March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved 46 cents higher to US$97.84 a barrel.

Financials also gave the TSX a boost, ahead 1.35 per cent.

The gold sector lost about 0.5 per cent as April bullion inched up 30 cents to US$1,257.20 an ounce.

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