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Toronto stock market builds on gold prices, information technology stocks

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed higher Monday, pushed ahead by gains in gold and information technology stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 51.76 points to 15,146.01 in a relatively low-volume trading session ahead of the Canada Day holiday.

Gold stocks lifted as bullion settled $2 higher at US$1,322 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

August crude was down 37 cents to US$105.37 a barrel, while September copper rose 3.55 cents to US$3.20 a pound.

The loonie dropped 0.08 of a cent to 93.72 cents US as Statistics Canada reported the economy grew by just 0.1 per cent in April — the same pace as in March — on lower oil and gas production. The figures failed to meet economists' expectations of a gain of 0.2 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

"It's not at all surprising to see that we're seeing sluggish growth. It's a reflection of a couple of different factors. We haven't seen the U.S. or the global economy hit its stride, so that's weighing on the export component of the Canadian economy," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Mo.

"We also continue to see consumers trying to manage high debt loads, along with sluggish wage growth and relativity choppy job growth overall."

New York indexes were mostly lower as the Dow Jones industrials shed 25.24 points to 16,826.60 and the S&P 500 index slipped 0.73 of point to 1,960.23, while the Nasdaq was up 10.25 points to 4,408.18.

It's a shortened trading week for both the TSX and the New York markets. The TSX will be closed Tuesday for Canada Day and the U.S. indexes will close on Friday for Independence Day.

Between the holidays, traders are awaiting two key reports in the U.S. — the Institute for Supply Management's June reading on the manufacturing sector Tuesday and the U.S. government's employment report for last month, which is being released on Thursday. Markets are hoping to see clear signs of the underlying strength of the U.S. economy.

In corporate news, a group of Toronto-area GM Canada dealers is suing the company and its parent General Motors Co., saying the automaker has ignored their repeated calls for financial help to address a drop in sales and market share.

In the U.S., the automaker said it is prepared to pay damages to victims of crashes in GM small cars — provided they can prove the cars' ignition switches caused the crash. GM links 13 deaths to a defective ignition switch in cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. But trial lawyers and lawmakers say claims of wrongful death and injury could total in the hundreds.

Bombardier Aerospace has received a firm order for 16 CRJ900 NextGen regional jets, with an option on eight others. Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) says the value of the firm order is about US$727 million, although the contract could increase to US$1.12 billion if all options are exercised by the customer, who asked not to be identified at this time.

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