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Apple shares fell in Wednesday trading after the company's earnings release on Tuesday. (MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS)
Apple shares fell in Wednesday trading after the company's earnings release on Tuesday. (MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS)

At midday: Materials, energy drive TSX higher Add to ...

Stocks in Toronto advanced strongly in midday trading Wednesday, powering ahead with a triple-digit gain due to strength in the heavily weighted materials and energy sectors as prices for both oil and gold traded sharply higher.

The S&P TSX composite index rose 134 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 12,225. The gains in Canada were in contrast to lacklustre action in the U.S., where a decline in the shares of heavily weighted consumer gadget maker Apple Inc. weighed on the market following the company’s release of disappointing sales and earnings figures.

Apple shares fell nearly $6 (U.S.) or 1.5 per cent, trading around the pyschologically important $400 level.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30 points, or 0.21 per cent, while the technology-laden Nasdaq dropped 6 points, or 0.17 per cent, led lower by Apple. The more broadly based S&P 500 edged higher with a tentative advance, shrugging off early weakness, but the increase was less than 0.1 per cent.

The economic backdrop for U.S. stocks disappointed investors, with the release before the opening of trading of weaker than expected orders for durable goods.

Orders in March declined by 5.7 per cent, although some economists cautioned that a major factor in the drop was a plunge in aircraft orders at plane maker Boeing. Aircraft orders are typically volatile from month to month and sagged 48 per cent, accounting for much of the larger overall drop.

“The U.S. durable goods orders report wasn’t as negative as the headline suggested,” commented Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note to clients.

Turning to action in Toronto, material stocks paced the advancers, with a sector gain of 2.5 per cent due to a march higher in gold prices after last week’s rout to two year lows. Gold advanced $11 an ounce to $1,425.

Among large capitalization stocks, Barrick and Goldcorp advanced about 3 per cent each, while smaller producers Osisko soared 6 per cent and Centerra advanced 4.6 per cent.

Oil futures advanced $1.73 to $90.91 a barrel in New York trading, propelled higher by a U.S. government report showing higher gasoline demand and a smaller than expected increase in oil stockpiles.

The move in crude send shares of oil producers higher in Toronto. Suncor advanced 2.4 per cent, Imperial Oil 2.1 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources 1.9 per cent.

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