North American stocks were up modestly in midday trading on Monday, buoyed by upbeat economic data from China and a relief rally in Canadian energy stocks.
The S&P 500 was up 2 points or 0.2 per cent, to 1420. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 27 points or 0.2 per cent, to 13,182. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 54 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,214.
Within Canada’s benchmark index, energy stocks rose 0.6 per cent. Part of this gain was no doubt due to rising crude oil prices: In New York, oil rose to $86.52 (U.S.) a barrel, up 59 cents.
But the gains also followed clarification from Ottawa on Friday on what energy takeovers it would allow. While agreeing to recent offers for Nexen Inc. and Progress Energy Resources, it shut the door on further takeovers by state-controlled companies, creating a mixed landscape for investors.
Nexen shares, which had slumped on Friday before the announcement, surged 13.8 per cent. Progress shares rose 13.4 per cent. However, a number of other energy stocks fell on the belief that they were no longer attractive to firms like China-controlled CNOOC. Athabasca Oil fell 0.9 per cent and Connacher Oil and Gas slumped 13.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, the overseas outlook was mixed. China reported that its factory output rose 10.1 per cent in November, while its retail sales rose 14.9 per cent. Both reports added to the impression that the economy was improving and would likely avoid a much-feared hard-landing.
However, Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti said he would resign, raising concerns about how the country will deal with its debt crisis. Yields on Italy’s 10-year government bond jumped 29 basis points, to 4.8 per cent, reflecting these concerns. The yield had recently fallen to its lowest level in two years.
In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.2 per cent.
Within the S&P 500, technology stocks rose 0.6 per cent and health-care stocks rose 0.5 per cent. Consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest laggards, falling 0.3 per cent and telecom stocks fell 0.2 per cent.