The Toronto stock market advanced as further confirmation the U.S. economy continues its slow but steady revival pushed commodity prices higher.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 43.93 points to approach midday at 12,421.83
The Canadian dollar slid 0.09 cents to 100.59 cents U.S.
Quebecor Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit rose 83%, helped in part by lower expenses and strength in its telecommunications business. Shares in Quebecor were unchanged at $36.30.
Fairborne Energy Ltd. said it may put itself up for sale as it explores strategic options to increase shareholder value, with other alternatives including a merger, recapitalization and the selling of assets. Fairborne shares spiked 25 cents, or 10.8%, to $2.57.
Oil and gas producer Pacific Rubiales posted higher fourth-quarter profit on increased production at its Rubiales and Quifa SW oil fields. Rubiales shares gained 20 cents to $30.42.
Trading in shares of Viterra Inc., Canada's largest publicly-traded grain handler, has been halted pending an announcement. The company said last week that it has had several expressions of interest from potential buyers of the big prairie grain handler. The price had gained $1.35, or 9.2%, to $16.00 midday.
In the economic docket, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said national resale housing activity improved 1.4% in February 2012 after having declined in January. CREA also said the number of newly listed homes climbed 1.9% from January to February.
The TSX Venture Exchange added 2.51 points to 1,596.86, while the Nasdaq Canada index moved 3.23 points higher to 413.80
All but one of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher at noon. Consumer staples maintained their mojo, gaining 1.3%, while industrials were 0.9% stronger, and global base metals progressed 0.8%.
The lone laggard was in real-estate stocks, sliding 0.04%
In New York, equities edged higher Thursday, as investors digested a batch of better-than-expected economic news. But the day's gains were mild as investors considered that stocks are already up about 2% this week.
The Dow Jones Industrials regained 18.81 points Thursday after a sluggish start at 13,212.90.
The S&P 500 tacked on 3.70 points to 1,397.98, while the Nasdaq picked up 9.66 points to 3,050.39.
All three major indexes are on track to post their best weekly gains since mid-January. The Dow, which is going for its seventh consecutive day of gains, has climbed more than 2.2% this week.
The S&P 500 is up 2%, and the Nasdaq has increased 1.8%.
The mood on Wall Street remained positive as reports showed that jobless claims are at the lowest level in four years, manufacturing activity continues to expand, and inflation remains low.
Bank stocks have been in focus this week following the results of the Federal Reserve's latest stress tests, which said a majority of the nation's largest banks would be able to weather another deep recession. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been the best performing stocks on the Dow on Thursday.
But the Fed said four institutions -- including Citigroup and Metlife -- would likely need to raise more capital in the event of a severe financial shock or economic downturn.
Cisco Systems' shares slipped after the San Jose, Calif.-company announced its $5-billion U.S. bid to buy NDS Group Ltd., a British provider of video software with 5,000 employees.
NDS is privately held by News Corp. and Permira.
Scholastic shares surged after the publishing company reported revenue of $468 million U.S. and a loss per share of 10 cents U.S., a much better performance than the $393 million U.S. in revenue and 70 cent-per-share loss that analysts had expected.
Discount retailer Ross Stores reported fourth-quarter results in line with analysts' expectations, sending shares slightly lower.
Capital One Financial shares rose after the company announced a $1.25-billion U.S. common stock offering on Wednesday to help finance its acquisition of HSBC's U.S. credit card business.
Apple Inc. jumped to touch an all-time high above the $600 U.S. per share benchmark.
Demandware's stock jumped 50% in its stock market debut. The company priced 5.5 million shares at $16 U.S. per share in its initial public offering late Wednesday.
Economically speaking, initial unemployment claims for the week ended March 10 fell to 351,000, compared to 365,000 the prior week. That was slightly less than the forecast of 355,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.
Producer prices for February increased 0.4%, which was slightly less than the expected increase of 0.5%. That's compared to January, when the PPI ticked up by 0.1%.
The Empire Manufacturing survey rose to 20.2 in March, much higher than the reading of 15 that analysts were expecting. The index was 19.5 in February.
The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey index is expected to stand at 12.5, up from 10.2 in the month prior.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained a bit, pushing the yield down to 2.26% from 2.27% late Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for February delivery sank $1.29 to $104.14 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $5.70 to $1,648.60 U.S. an ounce.