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(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

At the open: Miners push TSX higher Add to ...

Mining stocks pushed the Toronto stock market higher Tuesday amid rising metal prices while traders awaited the latest U.S. data on new home sales and consumer confidence.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 24.76 points to 14,303.31.

The Canadian dollar jumped 0.13 of a cent to 89.46 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were positive as the Dow Jones industrials ran up 108.63 points to 16,385.32, the Nasdaq was ahead 27.71 points to 4,254.10, while the S&P 500 index climbed 10.67 points to 1,868.11.

Traders also digested comments from Charles Plosser, the president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, who told CNBC he expects short-term interest rates to hit “two-something” at the end of 2015 and three per cent at the end of 2016.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen caught markets unaware last week when she said that the Fed could start increasing rates from near zero about six months after the end of its bond buying program.

Plosser said the reaction surprised him, saying her timetable “wasn’t a wildly unexpected timeframe.”

Meanwhile, economists expect February data to show year over year growth in new home sales slowed to an annualized pace of 440,000, down from 468,000 in January.

A commentary from TD Economics noted that such a showing would be consistent with weather-related weakness in other economic indicators.

Ahead of the home sales data, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite indicated that U.S. home prices ticked down 0.1 per cent in January in a third month of declines, with 12 of 20 tracked cities posting drops. On a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices in January rose 0.8 per cent.

The U.S. Conference Board was also set to release its latest take on consumer confidence mid-morning.

Meanwhile, stocks had put in a negative performance Monday in the wake of a report showing a further contraction in China’s manufacturing sector. On top of that, investors worry that the Chinese government won’t be moving in with stimulus measures as it has in the past.

Elsewhere on the economic front, business confidence in Germany has slipped back from a 2 1/2-year high as tensions over Ukraine cloud companies’ outlook for the next six months. The Ifo Institute said its monthly confidence index dropped to 110.7 points this month from 111.3 in February.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that she wants a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Russia’s actions in Ukraine but has made clear she won’t shy away from economic sanctions if the situation escalates.

Commodities advanced as May copper was up five cents to $2.99 (U.S.) a pound and the TSX base metals sector improved by 2.05 per cent.

The gold sector climbed 1.31 per cent as April bullion climbed $1.20 to $1,312.40 an ounce.

May crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 30 cents to $99.90 a barrel but the energy sector edged slightly lower.

On the corporate front, Air Canada Rouge is launching service from Vancouver and Calgary to destinations in the United States this spring as the national carrier converts flights to its lower cost subsidiary. It will also take on service between Toronto to San Diego and Phoenix. Air Canada shares rose nine cents to $5.79 (Canadian).

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