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TSX higher on strong commodity prices

The Toronto stock market was higher early Friday as prices rose for key commodities while data suggested a cooling of the Canadian housing market.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 55.80 points to 12,799.91 shortly after markets opened.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.19 of a cent at 98.01 cents US, coming off a three-week high of 98.22 reached earlier in the morning.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported that home and condo resales fell 2.1 per cent in February from the previous month, when they logged a small gain.

On a year-over-year basis, last month's activity was down 15.8 per cent

Meanwhile, U.S. markets gave back some of the enthusiastic gains from recent sessions, when the Dow surged to a record high, while the S&P neared its own record mark.

The Dow industrials dropped 34.99 points off its new high to 14,504.15.

The Nasdaq was down 4.75 points to 3,254.18 and the S&P 500 index slid 2.97 points to 1,560.26.

In commodities, the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange added 56 cents to US$93.59 a barrel, while the TSX energy sector gained 0.6 per cent.

Gold stocks were up 0.4 per cent as April bullion rose 90 cents to US$1,591.60 an ounce. May copper gained 0.7 of a cent to US$3.54 a pound.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. a spike in gas prices drove up expenses in February. The Labor Department says consumer prices increased a seasonally adjusted 0.7 per cent last month from January, the biggest rise since June 2009. Three-fourths of the increase reflected a 9.1 per cent surge in gas prices.



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