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At midday: Commodity producers lift TSX Add to ...

North American stocks were higher in midday trading on Tuesday, with commodity producers rallying following an upbeat report on Chinese inflation.

The S&P 500 was up 2 points or 0.1 per cent, to 1566. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 19 points or 0.1 per cent, to 14,633. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 123 points or 1 per cent, to 12,468.

The gains followed a report showing that China’s inflation rate eased more than forecast in March. Investors also looked beyond a credit downgrade for the country: Fitch Ratings lowered its rating on China’s long-term local-currency bonds, to AA-minus from A-plus, pointing to the rising borrowing among local governments.

Within the S&P 500, energy stocks and materials rose 1 per cent each. Health-care stocks and financials rose 0.2 per cent each. Consumer discretionary stocks fell 0.5 per cent.

Alcoa Inc. fell 0.5 per cent, after reporting first-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ expectations, but missing on sales.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. fell 11.1 per cent after its chief executive, Ron Johnson – the former Apple Inc. executive who was seen as the clothing retailer’s biggest hope for a turnaround – was ousted.

Herbalife Ltd. fell 1.4 per cent after it resumed trading following a morning halt. KPMG resigned as the firm’s auditor, announcing that it had fired a partner over alleged disclosure of insider information.

Within Canada’s benchmark index, materials surged 2.6 per cent and energy stocks rose 1.1 per cent. Financials rose 0.8 per cent.

In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 per cent and Germany’s DAX index fell 0.3 per cent.

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