Health-care stocks robust The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Wednesday as investors speculated whether strong U.S. jobs data could persuade the Federal Reserve to accelerate the winding up of a key stimulus program. The S&P/TSX composite index added 26.02 points to greet noon at 13,622.95 The Canadian dollar unloaded another 0.33 cents to 92.54 cents U.S. TSX gains were paced by the base metals segment, while the March copper contract lost early gains and was unchanged at $3.36 U.S. a pound. Performance was mixed with HudBay Minerals ahead 34 cents to $8.95 while Teck Resources declined 28 cents to $26.33 . The tech sector was largely supportive, as Constellation Software rose $3.36 to $229 and Open Text climbed $1.90 to $101.38 . BlackBerry was unchanged after two days of solid gains at $9.14 after rising as high as $9.85 earlier in the morning. The energy sector was up while Suncor Energy gained 29 cents to $37.46 . Among gold plays, Barrick Gold faded 28 cents to $19.39 while Goldcorp fell 26 cents to $23.86 . The component was the worst performer on the TSX last year, losing almost 50%, but it has been generally positive so far this year, up about four per cent over the last week. Industrials also dragged with Canadian National Railway down $1.13 to $58.45 . A CN train carrying propane and crude oil derailed in northwestern New Brunswick Tuesday. A spokesman said initial indications are that 15 cars and one locomotive derailed from a train that consisted of 122 cars and four locomotives. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange gained 5.91 points to greet midday at 955.74 Nine of the 14 TSX subgroups were positive at noon hour, led by health-care stocks, up 1.7%, metals and mining, 1.2% stronger, and information technology, clicking 1% higher. The five laggards were weighed mostly by gold, down 1%, industrials, off 0.3%, and real-estate, down 0.2%. ON WALLSTREET Investors were cautious midday Wednesday, following a day of healthy gains and as they await minutes from last month's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 70.18 points to break for lunch at 16,460, after Tuesday's 100-point-plus gain The S&P 500 index eked up 0.1 points to 1,837.98. The NASDAQ gained 14.73 points to 4,167.91 In corporate news, J.C. Penney shares plunged after the troubled retailer released a short and vague statement about its sales performance during the key holiday season. J.C. Penney said it was "pleased" with its sales, but failed to release specific figures. The lack of details caused concern among the retailer's investors, who have been betting on progress in the company's turnaround efforts. Shares of Ford rose after the automaker said late Tuesday that CEO Alan Mulally is not leaving the company for Microsoft. Shares of Microsoft were lower. Constellation Brands surged after the wine, beer and spirits company reported strong earnings for its most recent quarter and boosted its outlook for the year. Agrochemical giant Monsanto shares were also higher following better-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales. Revenue figures were disappointing from The Container Store, sending shares of the retailer sharply lower. Micron Technology shares surged following quarterly earnings that beat expectations. Yahoo rose to a multi-year high, a day after CEO Marissa Mayer touted some of the company's new products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas . Economically speaking, payroll firm ADP reported that the U.S. private sector created 238,000 jobs during December. Investors and traders will be keen to see what the latest Fed minutes, due in the afternoon, show since they cover the meeting when the central bank decided to start cutting its massive economic stimulus program. Many Wall Street experts expect the stimulus program will be finished by the end of 2014. Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries lost ground, raising yields to 2.99% from Tuesday's 2.96%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices dived 49 cents at $93.18 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices fell $8.40 to $1,221.20 U.S. an ounce.
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