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James Sciulli, a floor trader for Barclays, makes a final trade at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The S&P 500 index fell 2.43 per cent this week. (CHIP EAST/REUTERS)
James Sciulli, a floor trader for Barclays, makes a final trade at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The S&P 500 index fell 2.43 per cent this week. (CHIP EAST/REUTERS)

At midday: Stocks extend gains Add to ...

North American stock markets entered the noon hour by extending their morning gains, with the Dow Jones industrial average up by triple digits.

Traders largely shrugged off late-morning news that European Union leaders failed to reach agreement today on a new seven-year budget, calling off talks after less than two days. Most countries rejected deeper spending cuts demanded by Britain and its allies.

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Shortly past noon, the Dow was up 103 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 12,939 and the broader S&P 500 was up 11 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 1,402. The S&P/TSX index was up 45 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12,198. U.S. markets close early today at 1 p.m. (ET).

The breakdown in the budget talks wasn't particularly surprising. Markets, however, will be more vulnerable to a selloff should a meeting of euro-area finance ministers Monday that will discuss aid to Greece fails.

Greece's finance minister said today that the International Monetary Fund has relaxed its debt-cutting target for Greece and only a €10-billion ($13-billion) gap remains to be filled for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But others involved in the talks cautioned that the funding gap was far bigger than that suggested by Greece and that the two sides were not on the verge of striking a deal to resolve the euro zone’s most intractable problem.

Meanwhile, traders have found some encouragement from an unexpected rise in German business confidence. The Ifo institute said its business climate index climbed to 101.4 this month, beating expectations for about 99.5. It was a welcome reading that prompted some economists to speculate that the better-than-expected factory data from the U.S. and China this week may eventually help benefit German industry.

The gold and precious metals sector was the lead advancer on the TSX, as the price of bullion advanced $20.40 at $1,748.60 (U.S.).

Research In Motion Ltd. shares in Toronto shaved some of their earlier losses, and were down just 24 cents, or 2 per cent, at $11.76 after posting a 17 per cent rally on Thursday. U.S.-listed shares on Nasdaq have nearly caught up to the Canadian rally on U.S. Thanksgiving day, now up 14.4 per cent at $11.75.

The Canadian dollar is up nearly half a cent at midday, last trading up 0.4 per cent at 1.0074 per (U.S.). Inflation figures this morning from Statistics Canada didn't grab a lot of attention. While inflation was a little higher than expected in October, the rate remained well below the central bank’s 2 per cent target, suggesting interest rate hikes are still a long way off.

 
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