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Asian stocks decline following 2 days of US declines, forecast of lower corporate profits

BEIJING, China - Asian stock markets fell Monday following two days of U.S. declines and forecasts of lower American corporate profits. Oil rose above $104 per barrel amid renewed tensions between Ukraine and Russia. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 per cent to 2,122.38 and the regional heavyweight, Tokyo's Nikkei 225, shed 0.1 per cent to 13,944.43. Sydney's S The declines came after investors drove U.S. markets lower for a second day Friday due to anxiety that earnings growth was faltering.

Business Highlights

___ Toyota, GM recalls push US to near-record pace DETROIT (AP) — Big U.S. recalls by General Motors and Toyota have put the auto industry on a record pace as companies try to avoid bad publicity and punishment from an increasingly aggressive government. On Wednesday, Toyota announced it was recalling nearly 1.8 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix a spate of problems, including air bags that might not inflate. It's part of a worldwide recall of 6.4 million cars and trucks.

TSX advances, Alcoa beats expectations, Fed strikes dovish stance in minutes

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was higher Wednesday as minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate meeting were taken to indicate that the U.S. central bank will be more accomodative than thought in keeping short-term rates low. The S Indexes were also boosted by strong earnings reports from the retail and resource sectors. The Canadian dollar climbed 0.42 of a cent to 91.98 cents US.

Canadian dollar holds near its highest levels since mid-February on BoC survey

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar rose slightly Monday with the help of a Bank of Canada survey that offered positive sentiments for the domestic economy. The loonie moved up 0.1 of a cent to close at 91.17 cents US. Earlier in the day, the central bank's quarterly survey of 100 companies showed that hiring intentions last month were among the most positive in almost two years amid higher sales and better prospects, with more firms reporting growth in sales in the past 12 months.

Japan Mint to make coins for Brunei

Japan Mint has received an order from the Brunei Currency and Monetary Board for manufacturing silver Brunei coins, the Osaka-based mint announced Wednesday, the 30th anniversary of Japan-Brunei diplomatic relations. Brunei is the fifth foreign country for which Japan Mint has manufactured coins after World War II. The mint manufactured coins for Cambodia and Bangladesh last year.

Investors scoop up new U.S. platinum coins as gold slumps

By Frank Tang NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. retail investors have raced to scoop up the government's newly launched platinum coins, data shows, as industrial metals prices outperformed bullion, a long-time favorite among collectors. In the first three weeks since relaunching the American Eagle platinum coins on March 10, the U.S. Mint sold some 10,000 ounces, data showed. In March, platinum prices rose almost 1 percent, sharply outperforming gold's 3 percent fall.

After December's weather shock, economy shows signs of heating up

OTTAWA - Canada's economy rebounded sharply in January, proving the previous month's anxiety-inducing collapse was really all about the weather. The country's gross domestic product advanced a surprisingly robust 0.5 per cent in the first month of the year — exactly reversing December's setback. And workers got more good news Monday as Statistics Canada reported average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose three per cent — well above inflation — to $925 in January, although the month-to-month figure was flat.

BRP reports fourth-quarter loss of $6.3 million, sales up from year ago

VALCOURT, Que. - BRP Inc. (TSX:DOO) says it lost $6.3 million in its latest quarter as weaker Canadian dollar helped boost revenue. The maker of snowmobiles, jet-skis and all-terrain vehicles said Friday the loss amounted to five cents per diluted share compared with a profit of $35.8 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, a year ago. However, excluding one-time items, the company said it earned a normalized profit of $48.3 million or 41 cents per diluted share for the quarter, compared with $36.5 million or 35 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Focus on the Markets

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed at 89.33 cents U-S, up 0.12 of a cent from Friday's close. The S-and-P/T-S-X composite index was down 57.21 points to 14,278.55. Volume at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time was 329.48 (m) million shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 26.08 points to 16,276.69. The Standard-and-Poor's 500 index shed 9.08 points to 1,857.44. In the New York Mercantile Exchange, the gold futures for April closed at 1,311 dollars, 20 cents U-S per ounce, down 24 dollars and 80 cents.

TSX set to advance amid hopes that China's will take steps to bolster growth

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market looked set for a positive session Monday amid hopes that data showing continued contraction of China's manufacturing sector will force authorities to take steps to meet its growth target. The Canadian dollar was down 0.07 of a cent to 89.14 cents US. U.S. futures were slightly higher after the preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index for China dropped to 48.1 in March from February’s 48.5. It was the lowest reading since July 2013 and was below consensus expectations of a modest rise.
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