TORONTO — The Toronto stock market ended Thursday with a solid three-digit gain as it was lifted by strong advances in the gold, metals and materials sectors, along with positive economic data from China.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,552.92 +140.19 1.13%S&P 500 — 1,697.48 +6.57 0.39%Dow — 15,498.32 +27.65 0.18%Nasdaq — 3,669.12 +15.11 0.41%The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 140.19 points to 12,552.92, while the Canadian dollar surged 0.92 of a cent to 96.86 cents US.The commodities-heavy TSX was boosted by figures from China that showed exports and imports both increased in July, beating expectations and easing concerns over a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. Exports were up 5.1% from a year earlier, while imports jumped 10.9%.“It’s a combination of things. There’s some positive data out of China today that is likely supporting the commodities space, both on the materials and energy side,” said Gareth Watson, vice-president of investment management and research at Richardson GMP Ltd.“Overall, the earnings are definitely helping, but there is definitely a macro story to it as well.”The positive data also helped push December gold bullion ahead $24.60 to US$1,309.90 an ounce, while copper climbed nine cents to $3.27. The September crude oil contract moved down 97 cents to US$103.40 a barrel.The exchange was helped by strong gains in the metals and mining sector, which rose by 7.36%, as shares in Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ) climbed more than 12% to $5.10 after it announced an $600-million loan from Rio Tinto PLC that will help it fund its $6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia. Shares in Thompson Creek Metals Co. (TSX:TCM) also gained 11.74% to $3.30 after it announced the name of a new chief executive.Nearly all sectors were up on the TSX, except for energy, telecom and utilities.U.S. indexes also registered some gains after being mixed for most of the day. The Dow Jones industrials was ahead 27.65 points to 15,498.32, the Nasdaq climbed 15.12 points to 3,669.12, while the S&P 500 went up 6.57 points to 1,697.48.Watson said the fluctuations in the U.S. markets shouldn’t worry investors too much, considering the indexes are faring well overall year-to-date.“Sometimes, in terms of that momentum we’ve been getting based off of economic data or earnings reports, it’s just tough sometimes to keep that momentum going,” he said.“We’ve had a really good stretch here since the beginning of July up until now. I think the market is just pacing itself, more than anything else.”In economic news, the latest figures showed that the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits over the past month has fallen to its lowest level in almost six years, signalling fewer layoffs and a strengthening U.S. economy.The U.S. Labor Department says the four-week average dropped 6,250 to 335,500 — the lowest level since November 2007, the month before the Great Recession began.For the past few months, concerns have been raised about when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin pulling back on its monetary stimulus by tapering its current $85-billion bond-buying program. Signs that it may happen sooner rather than later have prompted markets to get nervous any time the Fed gives away clues on the timing of this pullback.The markets had a lot to digest Thursday, as several major Canadian corporations from a variety of sectors came in with their latest earnings.Shares in retailer Canadian Tire Corp. (TSX:CTC.A) closed at a record for the year, up 7.11% or $5.94 at $89.45 after significantly beating analyst estimates. It said it earned $154.9 million in its second quarter and said it was looking for a financial partner for its credit card business. Its record share price for the last 52 weeks was $87.45. The retailer provided few details on its plan, but said it would reduce the financing risk of funding its credit card assets.Movie exhibitor Cineplex Inc. (TSX:CGX) saw its stock closed at a record, up $2.48 or 6.61%, at $40 after it reported a profit of $28.5 million in the second quarter on $301.6 million of revenue overall. The results were up from $21 million or 34 cents per share on $263.7 million in revenue a year ago. Its last record share price was $38.80.Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) reported core earnings, which strip out a number of one-time charges, of $609 million or 31 cents per share, up from $599 million or 30 cents per share a year ago. Analysts had been looking 34 cents per share of core earnings, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters. Its shares finished down 25 cents, or 1.39%, at $17.79.There was little reaction to Quebecor’s (TSX:QBR.B) shares after the CRTC rejected Sun News Network’s request to be carried on basic cable, saying that the upstart network does not meet the criteria for a mandatory distribution order.The media giant, which owns the channel, saw its stock gain 25 cents or 0.53% to $47.10 at the close. Quebecor also reported a $45.1-million net loss attributable to shareholders and $52.9 million of adjusted income from continuing operations for its second quarter. The adjusted earnings equal 85 cents per basic share, up from 72 cents per share or $46.1 million in the second quarter of 2012.Telecommunications giants BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), Telus (TSX:T) and potash producer Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) were also among the other major corporations that reporting earnings.TOP STORIESCRTC pledges review of news channel rules after rejecting Sun News Network’s bid for basic cable slotVerizon entry into Canada could be ‘catastrophic’: Quebecor CEOCanadian Tire seeks financial partner to help run its banking businessTim Hortons commits to $900M share buyback after investor pressureWHAT’S ON DECK FRIDAYECONOMIC NEWSCANADA8:15 a.m.Housing starts, July 8:30 a.m.Employment report, July UNITED STATES10:00 a.m.Wholesale trade, June CORPORATE NEWSCANADAMagna International Q2 earnings
CALGARY — A $4.5-billion Alberta project to turn propane into plastic will help deliver world prices to land-locked western Canadian oil and gas producers, says Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Ltd.The company announced Monday it has decided with its joint venture partner, Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Co., to go ahead with their proposed integrated propane dehydrogenation plant and polypropylene upgrading facility northeast of Edmonton.The plants’ plastic pellets will be sent by rail and shipping containers to manufacturers around the world to be turned into recyclable products used in automobiles, medical devices, food packaging and home electronic appliances. Pembina delays final investment decision on $3.5B plastics plant, seeks partner for LNG project Alberta joins petrochemicals boom with $2B methanol project proposal “Sanctioning of the PDH/PP facility is the largest step taken to date by Pembina in executing its strategy to secure global market prices for customers’ hydrocarbons produced in Western Canada, and provides another exciting platform for future growth,” said Pembina CEO Mick Dilger in a news release.Petrochemical Industries CEO Mohammed Abdullatif Al-Farhoud added in the same release that the facility is “ideally aligned with PIC’s continued pursuit of sustainable and globally diversified growth.”Pembina was awarded $300 million in royalty credits in 2016 as an Alberta government incentive for the project.At the same time, Calgary-based Inter Pipeline Ltd. got $200 million in credits for its nearby $3.5-billion polypropylene project, which is now under construction.The credits allow producers to reduce their royalty payments to the government and, as such, can’t be claimed by the petrochemical plants themselves.However, Pembina said Monday it has made agreements with producers to “monetize” 80 per cent of the credits over the first several years of operation of the facility, which is expected to be in-service in mid-2023.Pembina’s share of the project’s capital costs will be $2.5 billion including a 50 per cent interest in the joint venture, which will own the plants, and a 100 per cent stake in the supporting facilities.The plants will be located next to Pembina’s Redwater fractionation complex, which extracts liquids such as propane, ethane and condensate from natural gas.They will consume about 23,000 barrels per day of propane and have nameplate capacity of 550,000 tonnes of polypropylene per year.The project is part of a resurgence in spending on industrial chemical industry projects in Canada. A recent members survey by the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada projected capital spending would jump by 65 per cent to $1.9 billion this year, the highest since $2.2 billion in 2014 and third-highest in a decade.The survey suggested employment would rise by about four per cent or 640 jobs to 17,670 in 2019.Last year, Alberta announced two new programs worth $2.1 billion in royalty credits, grants and loans to encourage more investments in manufacturing plants, as well as facilities to produce petrochemical feedstock. The applications deadline was Oct. 1 and announcements are expected soon.The new plants are opposed by environmentalists who point out very little plastic is recycled in Canada — almost 90 per cent winds up as litter or in landfills.But Alberta’s NDP government says upgrading hydrocarbons at home instead of shipping raw product into the United States allows the province to ensure it has among the lowest emitting petrochemical producers in the world.