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At noon: Materials lead TSX higher Add to ...

North American stocks remained modestly higher at midday Wednesday, following better than expected gains in a report on private-sector U.S. employment.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 34 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 10,670. The broader S&P 500 was up 4 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1124.

Riskier sectors of the market with a higher exposure to the global economy were generally higher. Consumer discretionary stocks showed the biggest gains, rising 1.2 per cent. Industrials rose 0.6 per cent.

Key defensive stocks lagged. Utilities fell 0.6 per cent and telecom services fell 0.7 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 62 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 11,845.

Materials jumped 2.1 per cent, with big gains from gold producers and fertilizer stocks. The price of gold rose more than $15 (U.S.) an ounce, taking it above $1,200. Meanwhile, fertilizer stocks rallied after Agrium Inc. reported strong second quarter earnings.

In other moves, telecom services rose 0.9 per cent and financials rose 0.3 per cent. However, information technology stocks fell 3.2 per cent, dragged down by Research In Motion Ltd. after its new BlackBerry launch on Tuesday failed to excite investors.

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