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Inside the Market

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At noon: U.S. lovin' Bernanke, Korea Add to ...

North American stock market indexes were mixed on Friday at noon, after the tumbling price of oil and gold sideswiped Canadian commodity stocks while upbeat news about U.S. inflation and financial firms sent U.S. stocks higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 196 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 11,626. There, 28 of the 30 names in the index rose, and even then Chevron Corp. and Alcoa Inc. fell a mere 0.1 per cent each.

The broader S&P 500 rose 10 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 1287, with eight of the 10 subindexes in positive territory. Telecom services rose 1.5 per cent, financials rose 1.3 per cent and information technology rose 1 per cent. Just energy and materials declined, but only by 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

Investors were clearly pleased to hear that Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, believes that the jump in U.S. inflation should subside with lower commodity prices - a view that should translate into continuing low interest rates.

They were also upbeat following news that the state-run Korea Development Bank might be considering buying troubled Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., whose stock rose 10 per cent on speculation that a deal comes to light.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 99 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 13,440. Although the subindex performance was mixed, the big ones were carrying the day: Energy fell 1.4 per cent and materials fell 1.2 per cent, reflecting the declining prices of crude oil and gold. Oil traded at $117.93 (U.S.) a barrel, down $3.25 and wiping out much of the gains made during Thursday's spike.


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