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No, you're not dreaming. The TSX has moved into positive territory for the first time this year. After a Friday gain of 89 points, the benchmark Composite Index it was up 1.6 per cent for 2016. That's not a lot, but it's much better than any of the big New York indexes, all of which are still in the red for the year, with the S&P 500 off 2.2 per cent and the Dow by 2.4 per cent. We're also outperforming London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and just about everyone else except Mexico.

How did this happen in the face of weak economic performance, continued low oil prices, and a depression in the base metals sector? Gold, take a bow. The S&P/TSX Global Gold Index was up a breathtaking 40 per cent year-to-date as of Friday's close, by far the best performance among the sub-indexes.

But that's not the whole story. Gold stocks are a relatively minor factor in the overall TSX Composite. In fact, they don't even qualify as a separate category. They're included in the materials sector in the TSX weightings, which accounts for only 11.2 per cent of the total Composite Index. That group also includes companies as diverse as Stella-Jones, which makes products for the railroad industry, and fertilizer giants Agrium and Potash Corp.

So apart from gold, what else has pulled the TSX into the black? In fact, several sectors have made small contributions, but that is all that has been needed to turn the tide from a grim first six weeks of the year.

Telecom companies are ahead 6.7 per cent for the year. Consumer staples are up 6.2 per cent. REITs, which had been badly battered, have recovered 5.6 per cent. Utilities have gained 4.8 per cent. The Global Base Metals sub-index has added 8.3 per cent, despite weak commodity prices. Even the beleaguered energy sector is showing a 4.7 per cent year-to-date advance.

All this suggests that Canadian investors are looking past the current economic weakness and placing a bet on a steady recovery, fuelled by the low loonie and the apparent momentum gain in U.S. growth. Although our overall trade deficit widened in January, our trade surplus with the U.S. grew by $57-million to $3.7-billion. According to Statistics Canada, exports to the U.S. account for 76 per cent of our international total.

Looking ahead, the obvious question is whether this pattern can continue. The Canadian economy still faces some huge challenges, including low productivity (improvement of only 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter), low oil prices, billions in capital expenditure cuts, and record household debt levels.

But we do have one big thing going for us: a steady improvement in the U.S. economic picture. American job creation is accelerating and the World Bank now projects U.S. growth will reach 2.7 per cent this year, the highest since the 2008 financial crisis. Consumer spending south of the border is strong, with auto sales especially robust, apparently fuelled by the low cost of gas.

A robust U.S. economy is clearly good news for Canada and for our stock markets. But it should be even better news for U.S. stocks, which is why I still expect the American indexes to outperform the TSX for the rest of the year.

There's one potential huge black swan for Canada in the picture. His name is Donald Trump and one of his main targets is global trade, which he claims is destroying American jobs. He even wants to tear up NAFTA, or at least renegotiate it. If he should be elected president, we could be in deep trouble.

Gordon Pape is Editor and Publisher of the Internet Wealth Builder and Income Investor newsletters. Follow him on twitter @GPUpdates and on Facebook.