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TSX little changed, ends week with solid gain thanks to financials, miners

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market finished the session little changed Friday but positive for the week, led by gains in financials and mining stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 5.81 points to 14,708.1.

The Canadian dollar erased early declines to move up 0.2 of a cent to 92.0 cents US as the latest inflation data showed rising price pressures.

Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index for April rose at an annualized rate of two per cent, in line with expectations and up from 1.5 per cent the previous month. On a monthly basis, the CPI was up 0.3 per cent, lower than the 0.4 per cent reading that had been forecast.

Positive housing data helped send U.S. indexes higher heading into the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 63.19 points to 16,606.27 and the Nasdaq up 31.47 points to 4,185.81, Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index closed at a record high, up 8.04 points at 1,900.53.

The annual rate for new home sales in the U.S. in April rose to 433,000, up from a revised 407,000 in March and better than the 429,000 reading that economists expected. But that was still below levels of 446,000 a year ago.

The TSX gained 193 points or 1.33 per cent this week following two weeks of losses, thanks in part to well-received quarterly earnings results from Royal Bank (TSX:RY) and TD Bank (TSX:TD) that blew past analyst expectations. The rest of the big banks report next week.

The earnings helped push the TSX financial sector up about 1.2 per cent this week.

"I like the financials and this is highlighting again their very strong position," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer of Sun Life Global Investment.

"Even a slowdown in the Canadian economy won’t kill them because they have great foreign exposure now as well, so they’re going to withstand volatility in the markets. They’re well positioned, they have great earnings power, their balance sheets are extraordinarily strong, they have good dividend yields — they’re a good core ingredient in people’s portfolios."

The other big gainer this week was the base metals group, up about 1.5 per cent for the week, in part due to data showing a strengthening Chinese manufacturing sector.

On Friday, the base metals sector was up 0.4 per cent as July copper rose three cents to US$3.17 a pound.

The TSX energy sector was ahead 0.11 per cent as July crude in New York gained 61 cents to US$104.35 a barrel.

The gold sector led decliners, down about 0.8 per cent as June bullion faded $3.30 to US$1,291.70 an ounce.

In corporate news, Republic Airways' CEO Bryan Bedford says the carrier has no plans to cancel its large order of the new Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) CSeries jet. Questions have been raised about the airline’s intentions for the aircraft after it announced a refocus of its regional service, which includes the phasing out of 50- and 100-seat planes to focus on Bombardier’s Q400 turbo and Embraer’s 170/175.

But Bombardier shares fell eight cents to $3.75 on heavy volume of 13.2 million shares on reports that Moscow has raised questions about whether a deal with the Montreal-based transport giant to build Q400 turboprop aircraft in Russia will go through.

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