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At midday: Energy companies push TSX higher

The Toronto Stock Exchange was little changed early on Dec. 30.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Rising energy stocks helped give the Toronto stock market a minor lift Friday while investors looked to the release of a disappointing read on U.S. home sales last month.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 23.06 points to 14,233.43.

The Canadian dollar continued to pile up losses for a third day, down 0.22 of a cent to 89.78 cents US as Statistics Canada said that December retail sales tumbled 1.8 per cent from November. Economists had expected a drop of just 0.4 per cent.

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But the loonie was well off the worst levels of the morning after the agency also reported that the Canadian consumer price index was up 1.5 per cent in January compared to a year earlier. That was slightly higher than the 1.3 per cent rise economists expected.

U.S. indexes were higher as the National Association of Realtors said that existing house sales dropped 5.1 per cent during January following a 0.8 per cent rise in December. It was the worst pace in 18 months as cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases. The drop took the annualized rate of sales down to 4.62 million.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 50.36 points to 16,183.59, the Nasdaq was up 17.07 points to 4,284.61 while the S&P 500 index climbed 5.94 points to 1,845.72.

The energy sector rose 0.5 per cent while the April crude contract in New York declined 50 cents to US$102.25 a barrel.

March copper was unchanged at US$3.28 a pound and the base metals sector rose 0.2 per cent.

Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc. (TSX:TCM) posted an adjusted net loss of US$28.5 million or 17 cents per share, missing forecasts for a loss of three cents a share. Revenue was also below expectations, at US$117.1 million compared with the general estimate of $123.77 million. Its shares rose 20 cents or 6.8 per cent to $3.15 as it also said that it will suspend operations at its molybdenum mine in Idaho by the end of this year, due to persistent low prices.

The TSX was off session highs as the gold sector moved into the red, down 0.7 per cent while April gold gained $5.80 to US$1,322.70 an ounce.

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Eldorado Gold Corp. (TSX:ELD) shares were 15 cents lower to $7.97 as the miner posted a US$687.6-million quarterly net loss amid lower values for its assets and reduced gold prices and output. Revenue was $231.7 million, down from US$350 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

In other earnings news Friday, conglomerate Onex Corp. (TSX:OCX) posted a US$223 million net loss in the fourth quarter, bringing the total loss for 2013 to US$813 million. About $750 million of the annual loss was attributed to fair-value adjustments in favour of its partners. In addition, its aerostructures division had a loss related to long-term contracts. Its shares were unchanged at $58.99.

In the U.S., Hewlett-Packard reported first-quarter earnings and revenue late Thursday that topped analyst forecasts. The results were boosted by the surprising strength of personal computer sales to businesses and its shares were down 53 cents to US$29.65.

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