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In this Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, photo a new home is constructed in Pepper Pike, Ohio. (Tony Dejak/AP)
In this Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, photo a new home is constructed in Pepper Pike, Ohio. (Tony Dejak/AP)

At midday: Markets rise amid strong U.S. housing data Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Friday at the end of a positive week.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 9.96 points to 14,712.25 near midday.

The Canadian dollar erased early gains to move up 0.17 of a cent to 91.97 cents (U.S.) while the latest inflation data showed rising price pressures.

Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index for April rose at an annualized rate of two per cent, in line with expectations and up from 1.5 per cent the previous month.

On a monthly basis, the CPI was up 0.3 per cent, lower than the 0.4 per cent reading that had been forecast.

Positive housing data helped send U.S. indexes higher heading into the Memorial Day long weekend with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 57.27 points to 16,600.35, the Nasdaq was 14.09 points higher to 4,168.43 and the S&P 500 index climbed 6.36 points to 1,898.85.

The annual rate for new home sales in April rose to 433,000, up from a revised 407,000 in March and better than the 429,000 reading that economists expected. But that is still below levels of 446,000 a year ago.

The TSX registered a solid gain Thursday in the wake of quarterly earnings results from Royal Bank and TD Bank that blew past analyst expectations. The rest of the big banks report next week.

The earnings helped push the TSX financial sector up 1.25 per cent this week.

“I like the financials and this is highlighting again their very strong position,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer of Sun Life Global Investment.

“Even a slowdown in the Canadian economy won’t kill them because they have great foreign exposure now as well, so they’re going to withstand volatility in the markets. They’re well positioned, they have great earnings power, their balance sheets are extraordinarily strong, they have good dividend yields – they’re a good core ingredient in people’s portfolios.”

The other big gainer has been the base metals group, up 1.5 per cent for the week, in part due to data showing a strengthening Chinese manufacturing sector.

On Friday, the TSX energy sector was ahead 0.25 per cent while July crude in New York gained 37 cents to $104.11 (U.S.) a barrel.

The gold sector led decliners, down 0.8 per cent as June bullion faded $1.80 to $1,293.20 an ounce.

July copper rose two cents to $3.16 a pound and the base metals sector was off 0.05 per cent.

In corporate news, Republic Airways’ CEO Bryan Bedford says the carrier has no plans to cancel its large order of the new Bombardier CSeries jet. Questions have been raised about the airline’s intentions for the aircraft after it announced a refocus of its regional service, which includes the phasing out of 50– and 100-seat planes to focus on Bombardier’s Q400 turbo and Embraer’s 170/175. But its shares fell seven cents to $3.76 on reports that Moscow has raised questions about whether a deal with the transport giant to build Q400 turboprop aircraft in Russia will go through.

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