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People walk along Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange July 13, 2007. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
People walk along Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange July 13, 2007. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

At midday: Markets up on hopes of stimulus Add to ...

Stocks vaulted higher in mid-session trading, as investors shrugged off news of slowing U.S. second quarter GDP growth and focused on hopes for monetary stimulus from Federal Reserve Board and the European Central Bank.

The S&P/TSX composite index tacked on 82 points or 0.7 per cent to 11,721, with across-the-board gains, led by energy stocks.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average chalked up a triple-digit surge, rising 110 points or 0.9 per cent.

In economic news, the U.S. reported GDP growth slowed to an anemic 1.5 per cent annual rate in the second quarter, in line with expectations, but down from the 2-per-cent pace in the first quarter.

Many analysts says the slowing growth rate increases the pressure on the Fed to launch another round of stimulus known as quantitative easing to help boost the economy.

“Unless growth surprises on the upside, Fed policymakers will be chalking up their QE cue in the months ahead,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Both the Fed and the ECB hold interest rate setting meetings next week.

Shares in Europe also posted sizable gains, based on hopes for further central bank action. The largest advances were in hard-hit Spanish stocks, which surged 3.5 per cent, but every major bourse traded in the black. Italian stocks gained 2.9 per cent, French stocks 2.4 per cent and in Germany, 1.6 per cent.

Higher energy shares were a major catalyst in Toronto. Crude oil prices gained 58 cents (U.S.) to $89.97 a barrel and natural gas held recent advances to trade at more $3-a-million BTUs.

Among the larger gainers were Encana Corp., up 3 per cent.

Uranium producer Cameco Corp. slumped 3.2 per cent after reporting disappointing second quarter results. Share profit fell to 2 cents from 14 cents a year earlier.

In the U.S., shares of social networking company Facebook Inc. cratered after weaker-than-expected quarterly results, its first as a public company. The stock went public in May at $38, but plunged today by 11.7 per cent to $23.70.

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