The Toronto stock market gathered steam Thursday as commodities gained ground in the wake of positive U.S. housing data and continued hopes that central bankers can keep a fragile recovery on the rails.
The S&P/TSX Composite index added 114.62 points, or nearly 1%, by noon ET Thursday to 12,020.06
The Canadian dollar regained 0.18 cents to 101.26 cents U.S.
The energy sector rose while Canadian Natural Resources was ahead 40 cents to $31.21.
The gold sector provided lift, as Goldcorp Inc. climbed 78 cents to $37.02.
Barrick Gold Inc. was in focus as the world's biggest gold miner said it was in talks that could result in the sale of its majority stake in African Barrick Gold to China's largest gold producer.
ABG is Tanzania's largest gold producer and one of the five largest gold producers in Africa, but production costs have been higher than anticipated, Barrick Gold said in its recent second-quarter financial report. Barrick shares ran up $1.15 to $35.41.
The base metals sector was up while copper prices rose a cent to $3.36 U.S. a pound. First Quantum Minerals rose 30 cents to $19.41.
Telus Corp. 74 cents lower at $64.14.
In Canada, shares of Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. fell after it said problems with a new warehouse management system at its distribution centre hurt sales and margins for the third quarter. Its shares gave back 19 cents to $12.31.
On the economic slate, figures released this morning by Statistics Canada indicated that manufacturing sales were weaker-than-expected in June, slipping 0.4%. Market expectations were for a modest 0.3% increase in June.
Elsewhere, folks beyond our borders reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $7.9 billion in June, after two straight months of acquisitions totaling $36.3 billion. Canadians, on the other hand, added $3.9 billion of foreign securities to their portfolios, most of it in U.S. government bonds.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 10.43 points to 1,217.05. The Nasdaq Canada advanced 4.39 points to 350.14.
All but one of the 14 Toronto subgroups gained ground by noon hour. Materials picked up 2.7%, gold was up 2.6%, and the metals and mining group advanced 2.2%.
Only a 0.3% loss by telecoms spoiled the generally good vibes.
U.S. stocks acquired strength Thursday on another quiet trading day, as investors parsed through a mixed bag of economic data.
The Dow Jones industrial average came from behind to gain 70.4 points early Thursday to 13,235.18.
The S&P 500 gained 8.06 points to 1,413.59. The Nasdaq took on 24.45 points to 3,055.38.
Meanwhile, second-quarter results from Wal-Mart Stores showed that the retailer is still doing well in a sluggish economy.
The company upped its forecast for the year's profits. However, both Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings, which also reported results, missed on revenue expectations. Wal-Mart's stock slid in early trading but Sears shares were higher.
Analysts don't expect any big moves in the market Thursday, with little news on tap to drive markets. Investors have taken a step back following a week-long rally that pushed all three indexes to the highest levels since early May. But trading volume remains low, and many investors aren't placing significant bets in the midst of the market's usual summer doldrums.
Cisco Systems reported a quarterly profit and sales Wednesday that rose from year-ago results and beat Wall Street's forecasts. Shares rose more than 7%. Investec analyst Elisabeth Afseth said the latest batch of corporate results have been typical of the quarter so far, with more than 70% of S&P 500 companies beating on earnings, but only about 40% beating on revenue.
The "lock-up period" for Facebook shares ended Thursday, meaning that company insiders will be free to sell off about 271 million shares if they so choose. Thursday marks the first in a series of lockup expirations for the company. Shares fell nearly 7% and hit a new all-time low.
On the economic slate, the number of people filing for first-time jobless claims for the week ended August 11 rose by 2,000 to 366,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The weekly figure came in lower than analysts' estimate of 368,000.
Housing market data also came in better than expected with housing starts up almost 22% from a year earlier, while building permits rose nearly 30% from July 2011.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve indicated that manufacturing contracted faster than expected in August. The index came in at minus 7.1, below the forecast of minus 5.0. It's still up from minus 12.9 in July.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slid, pushing the yield up to 1.82% from Wednesday's 1.81%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for September delivery grew 82 cents to $95.15 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery rose $2.30 to $1,608.80 U.S. an ounce.