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Investors confront busy week for Canadian corporate earnings, key U.S. data

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TORONTO - Traders will have plenty to occupy themselves this week as major players in the Canadian gold mining and energy sectors — the two biggest advancers on the Toronto stock market so far this year — are set to report second-quarter results.

The energy sector is ahead about 19 per cent year to date. The gold sector is up 24 per cent, but that's after being cut in half last year.

Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse, says while expectations are high for the energy sector, solid earnings will not necessarily translate into share price advances as "those increased earnings are pretty much baked in the share prices."

"So unless they really blow the doors off I don‘t think you would see a lot of market movement," he said.

"And the backdrop here is that the price of oil has gradually been coming off a touch here, not dramatically by any stretch but has been coming off a bit and that may temper some expectations."

The Toronto stock market finished last week up 188.47 points or 1.24 per cent on positive Chinese manufacturing data and a series of positive earnings reports. The Dow industrials shed 140 points or 0.8 per cent.

Energy companies posting results this week include Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) — which enjoyed a nice pop last week on speculation that it could be a takeover target by Spanish energy giant Repsol — Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE), Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO), Canadian Oilsands (TSX:COS) and Suncor Energy (TSX:SU).

Major gold miners this week include Kinross (TSX:K), Agnico-Eagle (TSX:AEM), Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI) and Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX).

Gorman said he isn't expecting much from the gold miners, given that gold prices have backed off amid a generally lower inflation environment while geopolitical concerns centred on Ukraine and the Middle East haven't lit a fire underneath bullion prices.

However, there could be a positive in one key area.

"You may see some better news on the cost side," said Gorman.

"There is a tendency in that industry for the cost to follow the price so the price went up, the cost followed. I think a lot of the analysts are going to be seeing how effective they have been, or not been, in reducing costs."

Meanwhile, it is a key week for U.S. economic data as investors look for the latest readings on growth, interest rates and employment.

Figures for second-quarter economic growth are out Wednesday and economists are looking for a rebound after fierce winter weather was largely responsible for a 2.9 per cent contraction in the January-March period.

The expectation is for a gross domestic product gain of about three per cent, but BMO Capital Markets chief economist Doug Porter said that forecast has room for error.

"Given how much the first quarter surprised, I wouldn't rule anything out," he said.

"If we're going to be surprised, it will be on the high side, not the low side — but one never knows."

The U.S. Federal Reserve releases its scheduled interest rate decision Wednesday. Rates have been near zero since the financial collapse of 2008 and it is generally expected that the Fed will finally move to raise rates sometime in mid-2015.

"We're shifting from July to June and I have that sense that the majority of the markets are starting to think that the Fed might go a little bit earlier than they thought," said Porter.

"But I suspect that most are still focusing on somewhere around mid-2015 unless something really untoward happens to the economy or on the flip side, unless inflation suddenly has burst in the months ahead."

And finally, the U.S. government releases its employment report for July on Friday. Economists expect that job creation will come in around 230,000, down from June's surprisingly large gain of 288,000.

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