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At noon: Dow holds on to big gains Add to ...

North American stocks held on to early - and big - gains during midday trading on Friday, with investors celebrating an unexpected gain in capital spending among U.S. businesses last month.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 176 points or 1.7 per cent, to 10,839. The broader S&P 500 was up 21 points or 1.9 per cent, to 1146.

The gains were broad, lifting all 10 subindexes within the S&P 500. However, cyclical areas of the market benefited more than defensive areas, as investors bet on a stronger economic performance. Industrials led the gains, rising 2.4 per cent. Consumer discretionary stocks weren't far behind, rising 2.3 per cent, while financials rose 2.2 per cent.

Telecom services and consumer staples trailed, but still rose a decent 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 65 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,167.

The gains lagged those seen in the United States because two big subindexes - in terms of their weighting within the benchmark index - failed to ignite. Materials rose a mere 0.1 per cent, even as the price of gold touched $1300 (U.S.) an ounce for the first time ever. As well, energy stocks rose just 0.5 per cent, even as the price of crude oil moved above $76 a barrel.

Financials rose 0.8 per cent. However, the biggest gains were by small subindexes: Health care stocks rose 1/6 per cent, utilities rose 1.2 per cent and industrials rose 1 per cent.

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