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At midday: Gold stocks push TSX higher Add to ...

Rising gold stocks helped push the Toronto stock market modestly higher Friday as traders digested a mixed bag of economic indicators.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 58.15 points to 14,059.8.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.01 of a cent at 91.09 cents (U.S.) as manufacturing shipments declined 0.9 per cent during December. It was the first decline since last August.

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New York indexes turned mainly higher after the latest reading on U.S. consumer confidence, the University of Michigan’s index, was unchanged at 81.2. A slight drop had been expected. Another report showed that harsh winter weather led to U.S. factory output falling by 0.8 per cent during January.

“(Weather) is a big deal and it will have an impact on the numbers,” said Gareth Watson, vice-president investment management and research at Richardson GMP Ltd.

“But the extent that you can blame the weather is still up for debate. It’s a factor but is that the overriding factor? And I think you won’t really figure that out until we get a month where there hasn’t been interference from the weather.”

The Dow Jones industrials moved up 63.35 points to 16,090.94, the Nasdaq was 9.56 points lower to 4,231.12 while the S&P 500 index was ahead 3.38 points to 1,833.21.

Elsewhere, China’s consumer prices rose 2.5 per cent over a year earlier in January, unchanged from December. Traders found the inflation data encouraging because it leaves the Chinese government room to stimulate the world’s second-biggest economy.

Other data showed that economic growth across the euro zone was stronger than expected as gross domestic product grew by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter. That adds up to an annualized rate of about 1.2 per cent. Analysts had been looking for fourth-quarter growth of 0.2 per cent.

The TSX gold sector gained almost two per cent while April bullion gained $16.10 to $1,316.20 (U.S.) an ounce.

The base metals component was ahead 0.33 per cent while March copper was up one cent at $3.26 a pound.

Oil price declines deepened in the wake of the U.S. factory data as March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 40 cents to $99.95 a barrel. The energy sector was up 0.25 per cent.

Financials were up 0.5 per cent following a series of positive earnings reports this week from insurers.

On the earnings front, Enbridge Inc. posted a fourth quarter net loss of $267-million as it recognized lower values for some of its assets. Ex-items, the pipeline and energy services company earned 44 cents a share, two cents short of estimates and its shares added five cents to $47.42 (Canadian).

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. posted fourth-quarter net income of $850-million (U.S.), or $1.08 per share. Funds from operations during the quarter increased to $1.03-billion, or $1.59 per share, more than double a year earlier and its shares gained 40 cents to $43.18 (Canadian).

And sports equipment company Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. has signed a deal to buy the baseball and softball business of Easton-Bell Sports for $330-million (U.S.). Bauer shares added three cents to $14.21.

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