The Toronto stock exchange was slightly higher Friday amid rising prices for oil and metals and a major acquisition in Canada's media sector that will combine two of the country's largest television and radio businesses.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index increased 50.78 points to approach noon at 12,506.60
The Canadian dollar gained 0.05 cents to 100.88 cents U.S.
The Toronto market is largely based on the resource and financial sectors. And while financials have made gains for the year, the base metals sector is flat while the gold group is down sharply, leaving the TSX up about 3.5% year to date.
On Friday, the TSX headed for a flat end to the week as investors take profits from a strong rally that started in October and started to stall three weeks ago.
Canada's biggest telecommunications company BCE Inc. is buying Astral Media Inc. for $3.38 billion.
BCE already has a huge footprint across the media landscape through its ownership of Bell Media, which includes the CTV television network and the former CHUM radio network.
This transaction will give it a further slate of media assets that include television stations, specialty channels, radio stations and billboards across the country.
The transaction is valued at $50 per share. Astral shares jumped $12.20 to $48.45 while BCE shares dipped nine cents to $39.97. Shares in Corus Entertainment, a partner of Astral that also owns a variety of radio and TV properties, ran ahead $2.57 or 11.81% to $24.34.
The energy sector gained with Suncor Energy ahead 35 cents to $33.26.
The financials sector was ahead with Scotiabank up 39 cents to $55.74 and Manulife Financial ran ahead 26 cents to $13.98.
The base metals sector was ahead while copper prices climbed three cents to $3.93 U.S. a pound.
Teck Resources gained 36 cents to $35.90.
The gold sector was a major decliner as Barrick Gold Corp. declined 33 cents to $43.21.
On matters economic, Statistics Canada reported this morning that manufacturing sales slid 0.9% to $49.6 billion in January, only the second such decrease in the last seven months.
The agency also reported that foreign investors reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $4.2 billion in January after pumping $55.1 billion into this country over the previous six months.
Canadian investors acquired foreign securities for a ninth straight month, adding $1.3 billion to their holdings, purchasing equities while selling debt instruments.
The TSX Venture Exchange added 2.54 points to 1,604.06, while the Nasdaq Canada index moved 3.40 points higher to 417.74
Eight of the 14 Toronto subgroups were up by midday, with consumer discretionaries ahead 1.8%, while metals and mining jumped 1.2%, and global base metals improved 0.9%.
The half-dozen laggards were weighed by health-care, down 1.3%, utilities, and real-estate, sliding 0.4% each.
In New York, stocks were flat Friday, one day after the S&P 500 rose near a four-year high, as investors took a step back at the end of a strong week.
The Dow Jones Industrials gained 6.69 points Friday to 13,259.50.
The S&P 500 tacked on 2.14 points to 1,404.74, while the Nasdaq regained 1.84 points to 3,058.21.
Friday marks "quadruple witching," when four types of contracts expire -- those tied to market index futures, market index options, stock options and stock futures. While many traders try to settle out those contracts ahead of expiration, there is often some volatility on the actual day.
Apple is scheduled to release the new iPad Friday, and shares were up half a percent in premarket trading. On Thursday, Apple shares touched an all-time high above the $600 U.S. per share benchmark, but slipped in early trading Friday.
Sprint ended its $9-billion U.S. agreement with LightSquared, a wholesale provider of 4G service, after it became increasingly clear that LightSquared's network may not get off the ground.
The utilities sector weighed on the Dow, with United Technologies and 3M falling. But Bank of America helped offset the declines.
Despite the mixed performance Friday, stocks are on track to gain more than 2% for the week.
The advance has been driven by a string of upbeat reports on the U.S. economy, including subdued inflation data on Friday.
However, a report on industrial production Friday came in below expectations and an index of consumer sentiment fell.
Economically speaking, Inflation for February increased by 0.4% in February after rising 0.2% the previous month, according to the government's latest numbers.
Higher gasoline prices were the biggest factor in the rise, accounting for more than 80% of the index's increase. The report showed consumer prices were up 2.9% year-over-year.
Industrial production was unchanged in February, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The report was expected to have shown an increase of 0.5%.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for March fell to 74.3 from 75.3 in February, according to a preliminary report. Economists had expected the index to have risen to 75.8.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.32% from 2.28% Thursday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for February delivery hiked 39 cents to $105.69 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery edged up $1 to $1,660.50 U.S. an ounce.