North American stocks set to rise amid strong earnings news, higher oil prices

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a higher open Friday amid rising oil prices and positive U.S. earnings news.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.23 of a cent to 99.48 cents US a day after closing below parity with the American currency for the first time since mid-November.

The loonie has been under pressure since the Bank of Canada indicated Wednesday that interest rates will likely rise further down the road than had been expected because of economic weakness.

U.S. futures advanced with the Dow Jones industrial futures ahead 44 points to 13,825, the Nasdaq futures climbed 12.8 points to 2,731 while the S&P 500 futures rose 5.5 points to 1,497.25.

Procter & Gamble stock was up 1.5 per cent in pre-market trading in New York as the maker of Tide and Pampers said quarterly net income more than doubled to $4.06 billion, or $1.39 per share. Excluding items, it earned $1.22 per share, 11 cents better than analyst forecast. Revenue also beat expectations, rising two per cent to $22.18 billion.

The world’s largest consumer products maker also said it is boosting its profit outlook

Oilfield services company Halliburton reported a 26 per cent decline in fourth-quarter net income, hit by costs from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, acquisitions and a seasonal slowdown in North America. But adjusted results beat expectations and its shares rose 2.6 per cent before the opening bell Friday.

Revenue increased three per cent to $7.29 billion.

However, Microsoft stock was down 1.16 per cent in pre-market trading after the software giant said after the close Thursday that it earned $6.4 billion, or 76 cents per share, during the final three months of the year. That was down four per cent from a year earlier. The company’s total revenue rose three per cent from last year to $21.5 billion.

The earnings were a penny above estimates while revenue fell below analysts’ projections by about $100 million.

Recent optimism about improving economies in the U.S. and China continued to help support an upswing in oil prices. The U.S. housing and jobs markets have shown improvement, while China’s manufacturing output has been gaining steam.

The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 38 cents to US$96.33 a barrel.

February bullion on the Nymex declined $6.10 to US$1,663.80 an ounce while March copper was unchanged at US$3.68 a pound.

In other corporate news, Talisman Energy Inc. (TSX:TLM) said it is out to slash costs by cutting jobs and exiting high-risk exploration areas. Talisman has already announced it is winding down its operations in Peru, where it was not able to establish a big enough resource to make it worth its while. It is likely to do the same in Poland, which has a nascent shale gas industry.

European markets were higher as Germany’s Ifo index of business sentiment rose to its highest level since last June, with order backlogs growing.

London's FTSE 100 index gained 0.17 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX was ahead 1.32 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 rose 0.67 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi fell amid fears that the country’s exporters could be slammed by Japan’s dropping yen. The benchmark fell one per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.1 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 per cent. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent.

Organizations: North American, Bank of Canada, Dow Jones Procter Gamble Halliburton Microsoft New York Mercantile Exchange Nymex Talisman Energy Inc. TSX FTSE 100 Australias SP/ASX 200 Shanghai Shenzhen

Geographic location: U.S., TORONTO, China New York North America Peru Poland London Frankfurt Asia

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