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At midday: S&P 500 hits new five-year high Add to ...

The U.S. benchmark index rose to a fresh five-year high in midday trading on Friday, after a smaller than expected trade deficit pointed to stronger economic activity in the fourth quarter and European leaders agreed to a seven-year budget.

At around noon, the S&P 500 was up 8 points or 0.5 per cent, to 1517. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 48 points or 0.4 per cent, to 13,992 – after briefly rising above 14,000 earlier in the day. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 32 points or 0.3 per cent, to 12,788.

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Trading volumes were relatively low because of the winter storm battering the U.S. northeast.

The U.S. trade deficit fell to $38.5-billion (U.S.) in December, a much steeper drop than expected, which points to economic growth in the fourth quarter when revised figures are released. A preliminary reading showed a contraction of 0.1 per cent.

China’s trade surplus in January was bigger than expected, with exports rising 25 per cent over last year.

In Europe, EU leaders agreed to a seven-year budget that entails the region’s first-ever spending cuts.

Stocks reacted favourably: The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.8 per cent.

Within the S&P 500, technology stocks led the way, rising 1.1 per cent. Consumer discretionary stocks and health-care stocks rose 0.7 per cent each. Financials rose 0.2 per cent.

LinkedIn Corp. surged 19.5 per cent after reporting income (excluding some extraordinary items) of $40.2-million or 35 cents a share, topping expectations.

Boeing Co. fell 1 per cent after it warned that deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner were at risk as it works with regulators to determine a solution to onboard fires that have grounded its fleet of new airliners.

In Canada, industrials and consumer staples rose 0.6 per cent each, financials rose 0.5 per cent and energy stocks rose 0.4 per cent.

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