The Toronto stock market was higher Wednesday as a strong earnings report from aluminum giant
Alcoa Inc. raised hopes that the first-quarter earnings season won't be as bad as expected.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 91.47 points to end the day at 12,026.76.
The Canadian dollar gained 0.01 cents at 99.58 cents U.S.
Copper prices stabilized and were unchanged at $3.65 U.S. a pound. Prices for copper, which is viewed as an economic barometer as it is used in so many businesses, have tumbled about 7% in the past week amid soft Chinese economic data.
But the base metals sector was ahead as Teck Resources advanced 50 cents to $35.30 and HudBay Minerals climbed 22 cents to $10.49.
The industrials sector rose about as Canadian National Railways climbed $1.91, or 2.5%, to $77.96 while Canadian Pacific Railway improved by $1.12 to $74.38.
In the oil patch, Suncor Energy rose 45 cents to $30.13 while Cenovus Energy was up 54 cents to $33.92.
The gold sector was one of the few decliners, as Barrick Gold Corp. faded 51 cents to $41.20 while Kinross Gold Corp. shed 21 cents to $9.19.
Romania's environment minister says an application by Gabriel Resources Ltd. for permits to move ahead with a controversial gold mine can't be speeded up as requested. Opponents say building the open-pit mine would damage ancient monuments and destroy a mountain face. Gabriel shares dipped 10 cents to $3.15.
In Canadian earnings news, Astral Media Inc. had a $38.2-million profit in its second quarter, a 10% increase over the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose to $233.5 million from $232.7 million and its shares added four cents to $48.51.
Dollarama Inc. says its net income soared 51% to $63.6 million or 84 cents per diluted share in its fiscal fourth quarter, up from $42 million or 56 cents per share a year earlier. The discount chain's sales jumped 14.7% to $468.7 million. Its shares gained $3.34, or 6.9%, to $51.70.
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 gained 4.02 points to 1,435.12, while the Nasdaq Canada index strengthened 5.69 points to 399.01
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher on the day. Consumer discretionaries gained 2%, industrials picked up 1.8%, while the metals and mining group tacked on 1.5%.
The two laggards were gold, off 1.4%, and materials, sliding 0.7%.
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 89.46 points to finish the mid-week session at 12,805.40, after yesterday's loss of more than 213 points.
The S&P 500 hiked 10.09 points to 1,368.68, and the Nasdaq took on 25.24 points to 3,016.46
It's been a rough stretch lately for U.S. stocks, with the major indexes down more than 3% this month. The Dow and the S&P 500 have declined for five consecutive trading sessions.
But stocks are still priced at attractive levels, and with yields on U.S. Treasuries trading below inflation, investors have few other alternatives, according to some observers.
Google will report its quarterly results after the closing bell Thursday, while JPMorgan's will come Friday morning.
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.
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 of homebuilders were strong, with Pulte Home, Lennar Corp.and DR Horton all rallying.
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.
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, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. import prices advanced 1.3% in March, while exports rose 0.8%.
The Federal Reserve released the April edition of its Beige Book, a summary of outlooks from the 12 district banks across the country. The Fed said economic activity continued to expand at a "modest to moderate pace" from mid-February through late March.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury sagged, boosting yields to 2.03% from Tuesday's 1.99%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery gained $1.60 to $102.63 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery fell five cents to $1,659 U.S. an ounce.