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CN Rail (Andrew Vaughan/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
CN Rail (Andrew Vaughan/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

At midday: Rail, oil stocks lift TSX Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher Friday morning primarily due to rising railroad and energy stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index shook off early losses to advance 51.49 points to 15,255.97.

Geopolitical concerns cast a shadow over markets going into the weekend, centred around Ukraine after a Malaysian Airlines jetliner was shot down Thursday.

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Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard with a surface to air missile, sharply escalating the crisis in the region and threatening to draw both East and West deeper into the conflict. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.

Markets were also focused on the Middle East as Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza aimed at destroying militants’ tunnels and rocket launcher sites.

The Canadian dollar was resilient despite the risk-off tone, up 0.19 of a cent to 93.14 cents (U.S.) as the latest data showed rising inflation. The consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent during June versus expectations for a slight decline. That translated into an annualized gain of 2.4 per cent – a two-year high – against the 2.3 per cent advance that economists forecast.

U.S. indexes were higher after racking up sharp losses on Thursday as the Dow Jones industrials moved ahead 83.80 points to 17,060.61, the Nasdaq rose 44.97 points to 4,408.41 and the S&P 500 index gained 12.66 points to 1,970.78.

The industrials sector was the leading TSX gainer, up one per cent as Canadian Pacific Railway climbed $2.58 to $204.91 on top of Thursday’s gain of $4.50 that followed the release of a strong quarterly earnings report. Canadian National Railways advanced 70 cents to $72.47 ahead of earnings coming out on Monday.

The energy sector gained 0.65 per cent with August crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 50 cents to $102.69 (U.S.) after two days of strong gains that followed the release of data showing a sharp drawdown of crude inventories in the U.S. last week.

The gold sector was the major weight, giving back most of Thursday’s two per cent advance. Gold prices backed off after running up $17 on Thursday with the August contract down $8.80 to $1,308.10 an ounce.

The metals and mining group was down one per cent while September copper was three cents lower to $3.17 a pound.

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