Stocks Fast out of the Blocks Friday

Microsoft Hits Record High

Canada's main stock index opened higher on Friday, taking cues from global markets that were buoyed by rising bets of a U.S. interest rate cut this month and as energy stocks were lifted by higher crude prices.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained a solid 63.21 points to open the week’s last session at 16,557.54

The Canadian dollar retreated 0.15 cents to 76.50 cents U.S.

Barrick Gold has struck a deal to buy out fellow shareholders in Acacia Mining after raising its offer to end a two-month standoff between the world's second biggest gold miner and its African unit.

Barrick gained 26 cents, or 1.2%, to $22.72.

CIBC raised the price target on Intact Financial to $134.00 from $120.00. Intact shares lost three cents to $125.69

CIBC initiates coverage on Enghouse Systems with an outperform rating, $41.50 price target. Enghouse shares picked up a penny to $35.11

On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported retail sales for May skidded for the first time in four months, edging down 0.1% to $51.5 billion in May. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales decreased 1.0%.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange added 3.51 points to 591.54

All but one of the 12 Toronto subgroups gained ground, with materials surging 0.8%, information technology up 0.7%, and consumer discretionary ahead 0.5%.

Only gold, which has been king of the hill for much of the week, lost ground, and only 0.09% at that.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rose at the open as Wall Street cheered a strong quarterly report from Microsoft sent the stock to an all-time high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 77.18 points to 27,300.15

The S&P 500 acquired 6.96 points to 3,002.07

The NASDAQ Composite gained 30.35 points to 8,237.60

Microsoft shares rose 2.5% after the company dubbed "Mr. Softee" posted quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analyst expectations. The company’s results were driven by a 39% year-over-year surge in cloud revenue.

American Express, another Dow component, also reported better-than-expected earnings. However, the company’s stock slipped 0.7%.

More than 15% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings thus far. Of those companies, 79% have posted a better-than-expected profit

Stocks eked out small gains in the previous session after New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said the central bank needed to "act quickly" when the economy was slowing and rates were low, adding in a speech that it is "better to take preventative measures than wait for disaster to unfold."

However, a spokesperson for the New York Fed moved to cool the speculation arising from Williams’ comments, telling the media that he was drawing from academic research, not hinting at potential policy actions at the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury lost ground, boosting yields to 2.05% from Thursday’s 2.03%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices increased 20 cents at $55.50 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices hiked $12.90 to $1,441.00 U.S. an ounce.