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TSX advances as Fed meeting looms

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was higher Tuesday as traders hope a two day meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve will yield some guidance on the future of the central bank’s stimulus measures.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 70 points to 12,358 with all sectors positive save for the gold component.The Canadian dollar was lower amid a stronger greenback, down 0.3 of a cent to 97.96 cents US.U.S. indexes were also higher as traders also looked to data showing that U.S. builders began construction on more single-family homes and apartments in May.The Dow Jones industrials were ahead 42.45 points to 15,222.3, the Nasdaq composite index gained 9.06 points to 3,461.19 and the S&P 500 index added 2.49 points to 1,641.53.The Commerce Department says builders increased housing starts 6.8 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000, below expectations of 950,000. That followed a 14.8 per cent decline in April. Housing starts are still below March’s pace of more than one million, which was the highest in five years.Applications for building permits fell 3.1 per cent in May to a seasonally adjusted 974-thousand. That’s still close to the five-year high hit in April.Other data showed that the consumer price index ticked up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 per cent last month, only the second increase in seven months. Consumer prices fell 0.4 per cent in April in the largest decline in four years. In the past 12 months, prices have increased 1.4 per cent.Market players are slowly getting used to the idea that the U.S. economy could be at a point where the central bank can start to slowly let up on its program of bond purchases, which has been aimed at keeping interest rates and yields low. The program, involving the purchase of US$85 billion of bonds every month, has also helped fuel a strong rally on stock markets that has seen the Dow industrials surge about 15 per cent year to date.Markets have been volatile since late May when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first mooted the possibility of the central bank tapering its bond purchases. Triple digit moves have become almost commonplace as traders grapple with whether the Fed will cut back and if so, when and by how much.Toronto’s main index and the Dow industrials ran ahead about 100 points on Monday. But that was off session highs after investors were spooked by an opinion piece in the Financial Times that said Bernanke will use a news conference Wednesday to signal the bank will start to cut back on its bond purchases each month.The telecom sector was the biggest percentage advancer, up about one per cent with Telus Corp. (TSX:T) ahead 67 cents to $35.60.Commodity prices headed lower with the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ahead 52 cents to US$98.29 a barrel.The energy sector was ahead 0.9 per cent amid news that Ottawa is proposing new legislation that would see the liability cap for companies operating in Atlantic Canada’s offshore rise to $1 billion from the current $30 million. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver also announced that liability in the Arctic will increase to $1 billion from $40 million. Oliver says the move is aimed at aligning Canada’s accountability regime with current international standards in the event of an oil spill.Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) rose 47 cents to C$28.64 while Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) was ahead 29 cents to $40.46.The financial sector climbed 0.4 per cent and Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) improved by 19 cents to $16.22.The metals and mines sector was up a slight 0.1 per cent while July copper fell three cents to US$3.17 a pound.The industrials sector also provided lift as transport giant Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) announced that it has received an order worth up to US$1.035 billion from VistaJet, which operates a fleet of private business aircraft. VistaJet placed firm orders for 20 Challenger 350s and acquired options for 20 more of Bombardier’s long-range business jets during the second day of the Paris Air Show, a major event for the aviation industry. Its shares climbed four cents to $4.74.The gold sector led decliners, down about 0.8 per cent as August bullion gave back $11.60 to US$1,371.50 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) faded 16 cents to C$19.59.In other corporate news, Hudson’s Bay Company (TSX:HBC) has appointed a new vice-chairman and president. The national retailer says its current president, Bonnie Brooks, has been named to the position of vice-chairman and Liz Rodbell, its executive vice-president and chief merchant has been promoted to president. Its shares were off 14 cents to $16.61.European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.83 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was flat and the Paris CAC 40 eased about 0.26 per cent.Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei stock average shed early gains to fall 0.2 per cent. Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was nearly flat while South Korea’s KOSPI index gained 0.9 per cent. read more