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A Bay Street sign, the main street in the financial district is seen in Toronto, January 28, 2013. (Mark Blinch / Reuters)
A Bay Street sign, the main street in the financial district is seen in Toronto, January 28, 2013. (Mark Blinch / Reuters)

At midday: TSX lifted by banks; HBC surges Add to ...

Canada’s main stock index was lifted by shares of financial firms on Monday, while energy companies got a boost as oil prices steadied after coming under pressure over the past month.

Royal Bank of Canada was the biggest gainer on the index, up 0.9 per cent at $94.43, followed by Toronto-Dominion Bank, which also advanced 0.9 per cent to $65.55. The financials group gained 0.93 per cent.

The energy group, which accounts for about 30 per cent of the index, climbed 0.2 per cent as U.S. crude prices rose 0.3 per cent to $44.86 a barrel.

Shares of Suncor Energy advanced 0.2 per cent to $39.34, while Canadian Natural Resources rose 0.7 per cent to $37.55.

U.S. activist investor Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC urged the management of Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co to explore strategic options, including going private.

The news sent shares of Hudson’s Bay up 15.8 per cent to $10.28 and helped boost the consumer discretionary sector by 1.5 per cent.

At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 92.91 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 15,285.45, with all nine of the index’s 10 main groups in positive territory.

Editor’s picks: Monday’s Insider Report: Companies insiders are buying and selling;

Monday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades;

Barlow: Canada’s housing bubble won’t end until China’s credit bubble does.

Among individual stocks, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc rose 6.5 per cent to $17.89 after activist investor and hedge fund manager John Paulson joined the company’s board.

Shares of Bombardier advanced 2.0 per cent to $2.52 after the company said it had received seven more orders for its Q400 aircraft from Philippine Airlines.

Gold miners were the main laggards, with the subindex retreating 0.2 per cent as the commodity hit a four-week low following hawkish comments from a top U.S. Federal Reserve official.

Agnico Eagle Mines declined 0.7 per cent to $61.56, while Kinross Gold was down 0.2 per cent at $5.40.

U.S. stocks were higher in late morning trading on Monday, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting yet another record high, as technology stocks rebounded after recent losses.

The S&P technology sector is coming off its second straight weekly decline, triggered by fears of stretched valuations and investors moving money to other sectors. Tech stocks have led the S&P 500’s rally this year.

Leading the recovery, Apple rose 2.6 per cent, providing the biggest boost to the three major sectors. Microsoft and Alphabet were also up.

The tech sector’s 1.37-per-cent rise led the gainers on the S&P 500, putting it on track for its biggest one-day percentage rise since March.

“Some of it is folks taking a second-look at names that may have been unduly punished in the rotation out of tech that started about 10 days ago,” said David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas in New York.

“There has been no change in the fundamentals for the tech sector. Earnings growth, earnings revisions and forward looking indicators remain healthy.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 107.62 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 21,491.9, the S&P 500 was up 15.92 points, or 0.65 per cent, at 2,449.07.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 72.12 points, or 1.17 per cent, at 6,223.88.

Consumer staples stocks, which were battered on Friday after Amazon.com’s $13.7 billion deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods, added to their losses.

The deal by Amazon, a proven retail disruptor, marked a major step by the internet retailer into the brick-and-mortar retail sector. Amazon rose as much as 2.9 per cent to an all-time high of $1017.

Wal-Mart, Target and Costco reversed premarket gains to trade lower.

New York Fed President William Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said U.S. inflation was a bit low but should rise alongside wages as the labor market continues to improve, allowing the Federal Reserve to continue gradually tightening U.S. monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen’s confidence as her team raised interest rates for the third time in six months last week surprised investors who had expected more caution about the economy following a set of weak U.S. economic data.

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