More Gains by Noon for TSX

Utilities, Energy Strongest

Equities in Canada’s largest market held onto earlier strength midday Friday, as a boost from the heavyweight energy sector was offset by a decline in gold and natural resource companies, as well as cannabis producers.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index climbed 73.7 points to pause for noon at 15,481.36

The Canadian dollar dropped 0.32 cents to 79.79 cents U.S.

Markets on both sides of the border will be taking Monday off, the U.S. for Presidents Day, Canada for Family Day

The energy group climbed, boosted for the second day by TransCanada Corp, which advanced 1.3% to $57.06 after it said on Thursday it would go ahead with the expansion of its NGTL natural gas system.

Suncor Energy also helped support the market, gaining 0.7%to $42.72, while Enbridge Inc added 0.2% to $43.33 after its quarterly profit beat forecasts..

A drop in gold producers weighed on the market

Agnico Eagle Mines was among the biggest drags on the index, down 3.5% at $54.35, while First Quantum Minerals declined 2.8% to $20.80.

Shares of cannabis companies also came under pressure the day after Canadian government officials said the planned July start date for legalized recreational marijuana was set to be delayed further.

Canopy Growth declined 3.5% to $27.00, while Aphria Inc declined 5.1% to $14.12. Aurora Cannabis was among the most actively traded companies on the index, down 6.4% to $10.16.

Among companies reporting corporate earnings, Air Canada rose 3.7% to $25.22 after it reported better-than-expected profit as efforts to improve the company's operating margins paid off.

On matters economic, Statistics Canada reported that manufacturing sales declined 0.3% to $55.5 billion in December, following a revised increase of 3.8% in November. The decline was mainly the result of lower sales in the petroleum and coal products industry and the food manufacturing industry.

Canadian investors acquired a record $22.0 billion of foreign securities in December, mainly foreign shares. Meanwhile, foreign investors reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $2.0 billion, led by a divestment in Canadian bonds.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange subtracted 2.18 points to 832.02

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups were positive by noon, with utilities climbing 1.4%, energy up 1.2%, and industrials advancing 1.1%.

The four laggards were weighed most by health-care and gold, each down 0.9%, while materials were off 0.6%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose on Friday as they tried to extend a five-day winning streak. They were also on track for their best weekly gain in more than six years.

The Dow Jones industrial average vaulted 167.57 points to 25,367.94, with Cisco Systems as the best-performing stock in the index. For the week, the 30-stock index was up 4.1%.

The S&P 500 gathered 16.07 points to 2,747.27. The broad index is up 4.8%, and is on pace for its biggest one-week gain since 2011.

The NASDAQ added 32.95 points to 7,289.18, and is aiming for its best week since 2011.

Stocks have rebounded sharply from the correction levels seen last week. On Feb. 8, the major averages closed 10% below all-time highs set last month.

In economic news, housing starts rose 9.7% in January, easily surpassing analyst expectations. Import prices, meanwhile, gained 1%, while export prices advanced 0.8%. Consumer sentiment rose more than expected, according to a preliminary reading from the University of Michigan.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note gained strength, lowering yields to 2.86% from Thursday’s 2.91%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices regained 50 cents a barrel to $61.84 U.S.

Gold prices nicked up 60 cents to $1,354.20 U.S. an ounce.