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The Toronto stock market was higher today after worries about the future of U.S. economic stimulus had driven the TSX lower over the previous two sessions.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 61.14 points to 12,701.11 while the TSX Venture Exchange advanced 7.87 points to 1,141.84.

The Canadian dollar was at another seven-month low amid data showing lower than expected retail sales and tame inflation figures. The loonie was down 0.59 of a cent at 97.57 cents U.S.

Investor sentiment got some lift from data showing that a key survey of German business optimism rose sharply in February. The Ifo index rose to 107.4 from 104.3 in January. It was the fourth monthly increase in a row, well above the 104.9 points expected by financial market analysts and supported the feeling that Europe’s biggest economy can avoid slipping into recession.

Friday’s figure followed an in increase in the ZEW index based on surveys of investment analysts released on Feb.19.

New York indexes were positive after two days of declines, sparked by the release of minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting. They showed that some policy-makers were worried that the bank’s US$85 billion in monthly bond purchases could eventually unsettle financial markets or cause the central bank to take losses.

The purchases, commonly known as quantitative easing, are designed to boost the U.S. economy by increasing liquidity in financial markets.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 43.01 points to 13,923.63, the Nasdaq gained 13 points to 3,144.5 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 5.86 points to 1,508.28.

Commodity prices were mixed on top of a string of steep losses. Commodities have been punished by a U.S. dollar, which strengthened earlier this week.

The gold sector was also ahead about 0.75% while the April bullion contract declined $2.20 to US$1,576.40 an ounce. The latest declines in bullion prices were sparked by the Fed minutes because the central bank’s quantitative easing has supported gold. That is because the bond buying program has encouraged worries about rising inflation and gold is seen as a hedge against rising prices.

Lift was also provided as traders look ahead to earnings from most of the big Canadian banks next week. Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) was up 36 cents to $63.07.

Meanwhile, there were concerns about the health of the eurozone going into the weekend. This weekend’s Italian elections could stoke renewed worries over Europe’s’ debt crisis, especially if there is a protracted period before a government is formed.

© Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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