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Skyscrapers that are home to big Canadian banks hover over a Bay Street intersection in Toronto. (Gloria Nieto/The Globe and Mail)

Skyscrapers that are home to big Canadian banks hover over a Bay Street intersection in Toronto.

(Gloria Nieto/The Globe and Mail)

At the open: TSX advances, S&P 500 hits record Add to ...

The S&P 500 hit a new high Monday morning, advancing 0.8 per cent to 1,850.48 at 9:53 a.m. and exceeding its last record close on Jan. 15., according to a Bloomberg report.

The Toronto stock market started the week higher as investors looked to a heavy slate of earnings results from most of the big Canadian banks.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 40.29 points to 14,246.01 with gains limited by base metal miners amid fresh concerns over the Chinese property market.

The Canadian dollar gained 0.44 of a cent to 90.26 cents (U.S.).

The Dow Jones industrials climbed 76.94 points to 16,180.24 while the Nasdaq climbed 18.91 points to 4,282.32.

National Bank kicks off the earnings rundown after the market close. All the big banks registered record annual profits last year but analysts believe this year will be more challenging amid a fading housing market.

The Bank of Montreal follows on Tuesday, Royal Bank reports Wednesday while TD Bank and CIBC report Thursday. Scotiabank reports March 4.

Traders will also take in the latest economic growth figures for Canada and the United States this week.

Statistics Canada releases growth data for December and the fourth quarter on Friday. Economists looked for the economy to contract by 0.3 per cent in December, largely because of crippling ice storms in Ontario and Quebec towards the end of the month. Growth for the quarter is reckoned to come in at 2.5 per cent.

Friday will also see the release of the first revision to U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth. The initial reading came in at 3.2 per cent but worsening weather in December likely pushed growth to around 2.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, figures showed that average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 9.6 per cent in the year to January, down on the 9.9 per cent rise recorded in December. The first slowdown since November 2012 has added to fears that the banks are beginning to tighten their lending and that could mean Chinese growth falters.

The tech sector led gainers, up 0.75 per cent with BlackBerry up 44 cents or 4.33 per cent to $10.61 after the smartphone maker said it will make its BBM text messaging system available to two more types of smartphones, those running the Windows operating system and the Nokia X platform.

The gold sector gained 0.4 per cent while the April gold contract was up $9.80 to a 3 1/2 month high of $1,333.40 (U.S.) an ounce.

The April crude contract added eight cents to $102.28 a barrel and the energy group gained 0.3 per cent.

The base metals segment led decliners, down 0.45 per cent as copper prices dropped sharply following the release of the Chinese housing data with the March contract in New York down five cents to $3.24 a pound.

Augusta Resource Corp. says shareholders with about one-third of the company’s equity are rejecting an all-stock takeover offer from HudBay Resources Inc. worth about $540-million. Augusta says the offer doesn’t recognize the value of Augusta’s Rosemont copper project in Arizona and would expose its shareholders to increased geopolitical risk without appropriate compensation. August dipped a penny to $3.57 while HudBay edged up four cents to $8.93.

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