The Toronto stock market was higher as a strong earnings report from resource giant Alcoa raised hopes that first-quarter earnings season won't be as bad as expected.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 76.93 points to move into lunch hour at 12,012.22.
The Canadian dollar gained 0.02 cents at 99.59 cents U.S.
Economically speaking, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the pace of Canadian housing starts remained brisk in March, with construction of apartments and condos remaining strong.
The housing agency estimates there were 14,517 actual starts in March, which translates to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 215,600 units.
March's seasonally adjusted rate was up from 205,300 units in February
The TSX Venture Exchange regained 5.83 points to 1,436.93, while the Nasdaq Canada index strengthened 5.60 points to 398.92
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher by midday. Metals and mining spiked 1.8%, global base metals jumped 1.7%, and consumer discretionaries gained 1.6%.
The two laggards were gold, off 1.2%, and materials, sliding 0.4%.
In New York, stocks rose Wednesday, bouncing back from a string of down days, as concerns about Europe eased and hopes for a better-than-expected earnings season rose.
The Dow Jones Industrials gained 99.57 points – off its highs of the day - to greet noon at 12,815.50, after yesterday's loss of more than 213 points.
The S&P 500 hiked 10.56 points to 1,369.15, and the Nasdaq took on 29.84 points to 3,021.06.
Alcoa led gainers on the Dow after the aluminum producer reported a surprise first-quarter profit late Tuesday, lifting optimism about corporate earnings as the quarterly reporting period gets underway.
Google will report its quarterly results after the closing bell Thursday, while JPMorgan's will come Friday morning.
Shares of Nokia fell Wednesday after the company lowered its first-quarter outlook. Nokia cited "competitive industry dynamics," the macroeconomic environment, and gross margin declines in its smart devices unit, in explaining the revision.
The U.S. Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against Apple and several publishing companies over a scheme to fix e-book prices.
The suit likely stems from the 2010 release of the iPad, when Apple reached an agreement with five publishers to release books on its then-new iBookstore.
Electronics retailer Best Buy will remain in the spotlight for a second day, following the company's acknowledgment late Tuesday that CEO Brian Dunn unexpectedly resigned amid an investigation into his "personal conduct." Shares fell 5.9% Tuesday, though they were up Wednesday.
Overall, the companies in the S&P 500 are expected to report earnings growth of less than 1% for the first quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Stocks in Europe rallied as investors welcomed declining yields on Spanish and Italian bonds. The yield on the 10-year Spanish bond briefly topped 6% before retreating to 5.88%; Italian 10-year yields fell to 5.51% from 5.69%.
Economically speaking, prior to the opening bell, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. import prices advanced 1.3% in March, while exports rose 0.8%.
Later in the day, the Treasury will release its March budget, and the Federal Reserve will present the April edition of the Beige Book, which is a summary of outlooks from the 12 district banks across the country
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury sagged, boosting yields to 2.02% from Tuesday's 1.99%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery gained $1.26 to $102.29 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery fell $1.50 to $1,659.30 U.S. an ounce.