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At noon: Canadians play while U.S. is away

Canadian stocks are higher at midday Monday, holding on to their sold morning gains in the absence of trading in the U.S. markets, which are closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Shortly after noon ET, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 48 points at 11,733, helped by modest gains in the commodity market, particularly among metals, and by gains in overseas stocks.

Eight of the index's 10 major industry sub-groups are higher, led by materials, up 0.8 per cent. Consumer discretionary is up 0.5 per cent, while the heavily weighted energy and financials groups are both up 0.4 per cent.

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Gold is up $3.50 (U.S.) at $1,134.00 an ounce. Oil is up 35 cents at $78.35 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar is up a third of a cent at 97.53 cents (U.S.). Statistics Canada reported that foreigners purchased a net $10.5-billion of Canadian securities in November, most of it in bonds.

With the U.S. markets closed, it has been a slow trading day; TSX volumes are roughly half their typical levels. The day features little news to give stocks direction.

But the rest of the week features a host of big-name U.S. corporate earnings reports that should help the quarterly earnings picture take shape. Financial heavyweights Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, as well as IBM, General Electric and Google, are all slated to release their results this week.

European stock markets closed higher, as rising metal prices lifted big-name mining stocks. London's FTSE 100 index, which has a substantial mining component, rose 0.7 per cent.

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