Stocks readings in Canada's largest centre were nearly unchanged on Friday as SNC-Lavalin rose on an acquisition move and Home Capital Group recouped steep losses, while some miners and energy stocks weighed.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index remained in the red 18.92 points to greet noon at 15,606.64
The Canadian dollar slumped 0.26 cents at 74 cents U.S.
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc gained 2.1% to $54.17 after the engineering and construction firm said Thursday it would move ahead with a planned purchase of Britain's WS Atkins Plc for $3.6 billion.
Another influential gainer was Home Capital Group, which jumped 14.9% to $20.35 after the company announced preliminary earnings figures and released a message from its chairman.
The stock recovered from sharp losses on Thursday, the day after the company acknowledged a securities regulator's hearing into its disclosure practices.
Among energy concerns, Suncor Energy declined 0.3% to $40.52 and Encana Corp shed 0.6% to $14.40.
Industrials fell 0.1% as Canadian Pacific Railway pulled back 0.9% to $205.42 after its shares rose on Thursday on earnings that topped expectations.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metal miners and fertilizer companies, lost ground, with First Quantum Minerals down 2.2% at $13.15 and HudBay Minerals off 2.2% at $7.95.
On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported Friday that March's consumer price index rose 1.6% on a year-over-year basis, following a 2.0% increase in February.
The agency adds, on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, inflation was down 0.2% in March, after decreasing 0.3% in February.
The TSX Venture Exchange dropped 0.14 points to 824.14.
The 12 TSX subgroups were evenly split between gainers and losers, as gold sprang to life 0.5%, consumer staples moved ahead 0.3%, and information technology gathered 0.2%.
The half-dozen laggards were weighed most by health-care, off 0.9%, energy, dipping 0.3%, and financials, poorer 0.2%.
U.S. stocks fell slightly on Friday as investors looked ahead to France's presidential election while digesting more quarterly results from companies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average stayed afloat 8.42 points to 20,587.13, with IBM contributing the most losses.
The S&P 500 subtracted 2.67 points to 2,353.17, with telecommunications falling about 1% to lead decliners.
The NASDAQ Composite added 1.01 points to 5,917.79
In corporate news, Dow component Visa reported better-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $5-billion U.S. buyback of class A stock. General Electric, another Dow component, also beat Wall Street estimates for earnings and revenue.
Earnings season is off to a strong start. As of Friday morning, 77% of the 95 S&P 500 companies that had reported topped earnings-per-share estimates while 67% beat on sales.
In economic news, existing home sales rose to levels not seen since 2007 last month.
Uncertainty around the French election has grown over the past month after far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's surprising surge in the polls. Concerns over a victory from far-right candidate Marine Le Pen rose after a shooting in Paris.
Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note inched forward, lowering yields to 2.22% from Thursday's 2.24%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices slipped $1.02 at $49.69 U.S. a barrel
Gold prices stayed buoyant 70 cents at $1,284.50 U.S. an ounce.