Canadian stocks rose modestly Friday, tracking their U.S. peers and overcoming worries about a debt downgrade for the province of Ontario.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index prospered 30.39 points to greet noon Friday at 12,176.24
The Canadian dollar grew 0.34 cents, to 101.93 cents U.S.
Moody's Investors Service downgraded Ontario's bonds on Thursday, a day after Standard & Poor's put the province, Canada's most populous and leading manufacturing area, on negative watch.
Moody's said the downgrade reflected "the growing debt burden and the risks surrounding the province achieving its medium-term fiscal plan given the subdued growth outlook, extended time frame back to balance and ambitious expenditure targets."
The move, however, was anticipated in some circles as Moody's had put Ontario's on negative outlook a few months back.
Air Canada shares soared 14% after the airline released stronger-than-expected first-quarter guidance. Canada's largest airline also reported a larger-than-expected cash position.
Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. gained 8.4% after the company said first-quarter earnings rose to 46 cents a share from 27 cents and revenue inched higher.
Among top losers, however, Petrominerales Ltd. lost 15% as the company said late Thursday the testing of its La Colpa oil well in Peru has been completed and no hydrocarbons were found
On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported that real gross domestic product grew everywhere except the Northwest Territories. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Nunavut had the fastest growth in the country owing to exploration, mining and related construction activities.
Nationally, real GDP rose 2.6% in 2011 after increasing 3.4% in 2010.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 18.39 points to 1,411.63, while the Nasdaq Canada index regained 0.82 points to 416.54
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were in positive territory by midday, led by gold and consumer staples, each up 0.8%, while consumer discretionaries gained 0.5%.
The two laggards were industrials and health-care, each down 0.3%.
In New York, stocks wobbled between small gains and losses Friday, as investors weighed a weaker-than-expected report on U.S. economic growth against upbeat corporate results.
The Dow Jones Industrials gained 30.73 points to break for lunch at 13,235.35. Procter & Gamble was the biggest drag on the Dow after the consumer staple company lowered its outlook for full-year earnings. The stock fell 3%.
The S&P 500 reacquired 2.47 points to 1,402.45, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq regained 15.08 points to 3,065.69.
Top performers on both indexes were Expedia and Amazon. Expedia surged 28% after the travel booking website reported strong earnings late Thursday. Amazon jumped 15% after its results beat expectations and eased concerns about the online retailer's expansion.
Ford Motor shares eased after it reported a 45% plunge in quarterly profit, because of losses in Europe and a slight dip in sales. But the automaker still managed to beat expectations.
Dow component Procter & Gamble reported quarterly earnings of 93 cents U.S. per share, which beat expectations by one cent. Sales rose by 2% to $20.2 billion U.S.
But the company, which makes everything from batteries to laundry detergent, lowered its forecast for full-year profits.
P&G now expects 2012 earnings per share to be in the range of of $3.63 to $3.74 U.S, down from a range of $3.85 to $4.08 U.S.
The drug giant Merck reported that its quarterly earnings jumped 8% to 99 cents per share, excluding certain charges. But the company fell short of forecasts by Thomson One Analytics projecting earnings of $1.03 U.S. per share.
After Thursday's closing bell, the S&P announced that it was downgrading Spain's credit rating from "A" to "BBB+," citing numerous drags on growth and an ailing banking sector that might require further government support.
On Friday, the Spanish government said unemployment rose to 24.4% in the first quarter.
Economically, the U.S. government said first-quarter gross domestic product -- the broadest measure of the nation's economic health -- rose at an annual rate of 2.2%.
The report was weaker than expected. Economists forecast that GDP grew at a 2.5% rate in the first quarter, down from 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
A measure of consumer sentiment inched up to 76.4 in April, roughly in line with estimates. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index stood at 76.2 in March.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury increased, lowering the yield to 1.95% from Thursday's 1.96%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery slid 38 cents to $104.17 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery rose $5.70 to $1,666.20 U.S. an ounce.