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In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)

At midday: TSX climbs, S&P 500 pushes into record territory Add to ...

Rising energy stocks helped push the Toronto stock market modestly higher late morning Monday while investors looked to a heavy slate of earnings results from most of the big Canadian banks.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 40.68 points to 14,246.4 with gains limited by base metal miners amid fresh concerns over the Chinese property market.

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The Canadian dollar gained 0.55 of a cent to 90.37 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were up sharply with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 142.7 points to 16,246, the Nasdaq climbed 39.29 points to 4,302.7 and the S&P 500 index rose 17.42 points to a fresh record high of 1,853.67.

The financial sector was in the red and National Bank down 19 cents to $43.31 as the Montreal-based bank prepared to kick off the earnings rundown after the market close. All the big banks registered record annual profits last year but analysts believe this year will be more challenging amid a fading housing market.

“I think that they will continue to provide solid results (but) I don’t think we will get big earnings beats out of them,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

“The demand environment for personal lending is an area where we see lower mortgage demand, slower demand for personal lines of credit.”

The April crude contract added 48 cents to $102.68 (U.S.) a barrel, lifted in part by a closely-watched survey that showed German business sentiment at its highest level in two and a half years, and the energy group gained 1.1 per cent.

The tech sector was up 0.9 per cent with BlackBerry up 77 cents or 7.57 per cent to $10.94 amid an unconfirmed report from Bloomberg that automaker Ford will base the next-generation Sync system on the smartphone maker’s QNX and no longer use Microsoft’s Windows. Ford has been struggling with in-car technology flaws and has more than seven million vehicles on the road with Sync using Microsoft voice-activated software.

The gold sector gained 0.4 per cent while the April gold contract was up $13.50 to a 3 1/2 month high of $1,337.10 an ounce.

Meanwhile, figures showed that average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 9.6 per cent in the year to January, down on the 9.9 per cent rise recorded in December. The first slowdown since November 2012 has added to fears that the banks are beginning to tighten their lending and that could mean Chinese growth falters.

The base metals segment led decliners, down 0.45 per cent as copper prices fell four cents to $3.25 a pound following the release of the Chinese housing data.

Traders will also take in the latest economic growth figures for Canada and the United States this week.

Statistics Canada releases growth data for December and the fourth quarter on Friday. Economists estimate the economy contracted by 0.3 per cent in December, largely because of crippling ice storms in Ontario and Quebec. Growth for the quarter is reckoned to come in at 2.5 per cent.

Friday will also see the release of the first revision to U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth. The initial reading came in at 3.2 per cent but worsening weather in December likely pushed growth to around 2.7 per cent.

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