TSX moves higher on broad gains while economic data mixed

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market gained some traction in early trading on Tuesday with broad gains across most major sectors alongside a mixed bag of data from both sides of the border.The S&P/TSX composite index increased 24.82 points to 12,806.58, while the TSX Venture Exchange gained 0.47 of a point to 1,112.25.The Canadian dollar was down 0.34 of a cent at 97.48 cents US.Statistics Canada reported that wholesale sales rose by 0.3% in January to $49-billion, mainly due to higher sales in computer and communications equipment and supplies. In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.5% for the month.And manufacturing sales edged down 0.2% in January to $48-billion — the fourth decline in five months — impacted by weakness in automotive as well as the petroleum and coal product industry.In the U.S., data showed that construction started on homes in February at the second-fastest pace in 4 1/2 years. The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on new homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000, up from 910,000 in January.The Dow Jones industrials rose 43.88 points to 14,495.94, the Nasdaq lifted 8.68 points to 3,246.27 while the S&P 500 index was up 3.37 points to 1,555.47.Traders’ attention will turn to a two-day meeting of U.S. Federal Reserve that is expected to keep record-low interest rates and other measures in an effort to maintain the momentum of U.S. economic growth. The details will be confirmed through a statement and update on economic forecasts due Wednesday.But Cyprus is also still on the radar as the tiny island nation in the Mediterranean roiled markets this week, announcing hefty taxes on banking accounts over the weekend in a bid to steady its ailing banks and to secure an international bailout. If the vote fails to get through the Cypriot parliament, it could shake confidence in the euro — Europe’s main currency.In commodities, the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped three cents to US$93.71 a barrel.April bullion faded $2.30 to US$1,602.30 an ounce, while May copper fell a cent to US$3.419 a pound.Convenience store owner Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) says profits rose 56 per cent to $142.5-million, or 75 cents a share, from $86.8-million, or 48 cents, a year earlier. Shares of the company fell nearly four per cent, or $2.19, to $53.40.Home improvement retailer Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) is hiring Robert Sawyer, a senior executive from the Metro grocery business, to be its next president and chief executive starting next month. The company’s shares were up 5.3%, or 56 cents, to $11.12.In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.1% at 6,465 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.3% to 7,986 and the CAC-40 in France was 0.5% lower at 3,807.Earlier, benchmarks in Asia were mostly higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped two per cent to close at 12,468.23 as the yen dropped against the U.S. dollar. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed morning gains to fall 0.2% to 22,041.86.The Canadian Press

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