The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Tuesday amid rising prices for oil and gold, and digestion of a key reading on American consumer confidence later in the morning.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index approached noon down 24.99 points to 12,549.80, after two straight days of triple-digit gains.
The Canadian dollar eased 0.20 cents at 100.71 cents U.S.
The base metals sector was flat with copper prices were unchanged at $3.89 U.S. a pound after jumping eight cents Monday. First Quantum Minerals dipped seven cents to $19.13.
The gold sector was also flat as Iamgold faded eight cents to $13.26.
Tech stocks supported the TSX with MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates up 42 cents to $45.38.
Industrials also provided lift with Canadian Pacific Railway up nine cents to a fresh high of $79.11.
The railway is holding an investor day in Toronto. Executives hope to convince investors that they shouldn't be replaced. CP's largest shareholder, New York hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, has expressed displeasure with the railway's performance in recent years.
It is pushing to elect six proposed directors who are in favour of ousting current chief executive Fred Green and replacing him with Hunter Harrison, the former head of rival railroad Canadian National.
In corporate news, pipeline builder Enbridge Inc. is investing $3.8 billion in a new round of construction to bring oilsands crude to the U.S. Gulf coast and help ease a bottleneck that has led to a glut of supply in the Midwest. It will expand its Flanagan South Pipeline from Flanagan, Ill. to Cushing, Okla. to a 36-inch diameter line with a capacity of 585,000 barrels per day.
Enbridge shares gained 28 cents to $38.51.
Mining company Rio Tinto PLC says it is examining options for potentially disposing of its diamond businesses. Rio Tinto operates a diamond mine 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
It also has mining operations in Australia and Zimbabwe and has a diamonds project in India.
British Columbia miner Copper Mountain Mining Corp. booked $44.7 million of revenue in its fourth quarter, bringing the total for the year to $66.5 million. It's the first year that Copper Mountain has booked revenue from operations.
The Vancouver-based company had $5.6 million of net earnings attributable to shareholders, or six cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec 31. For the full year, the net loss was $12.7 million or 13 cents per share, but its shares dropped 23 cents to $4.50.
The TSX Venture Exchange gave back 4.12 points to 1,577.27, while the Nasdaq Canada index erased 2.73 points to 415.49
In all, 10 of the 14 Toronto subgroups turned negative by noon. Information technology subsided 0.8%, while gold tailed off 0.7%, and industrials were down 0.6%.
The four gainers were led by real-estate, global base metals and telecoms, each up 0.1%.
In New York, stocks drifted between small gains and losses Tuesday as investors were reluctant to push the market higher given the strength of the recent rally.
The Dow Jones Industrials regained 7.19, to 13,248.80.
The S&P 500 eked ahead 0.41 points to 1,416.92, while the Nasdaq improved 6.81 points to 3,129.38
Bank of America weighed on the Dow after the stock was downgraded by Baird Equity Research.
Pfizer led gainers on the Dow as the Supreme Court takes up the 2010 health care reform law.
Stocks surged Monday on speculation that the Federal Reserve will continue to support the economy by keeping interest rates low. But the tone was cautious Tuesday as investors digested mixed reports on home prices and consumer confidence.
Overall, stocks have rallied this year on improving economic data and easing concerns about the debt crisis in Europe. In addition, investors say the market has been supported by the Federal Reserve's monetary policies.
So far this year, the Dow has risen 8%, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 13% and the Nasdaq is up more than 20%.
Lennar posted earnings of eight cents per share on revenue of $725 million U.S., figures that topped analysts' estimates. The homebuilder said it has seen an uptick in sales and new orders in the first quarter.
Shares of major homebuilders were among the best performers in early trading. Pulte, DR Horton and KB Home were all higher.
Drug-store chain Walgreen reported earnings of 78 cents U.S. a share on $18.7 billion U.S. in revenue, slightly better than analyst estimates.
Shares of private education provider Apollo Group dropped despite reporting earnings late Monday that beat Wall Street estimates.
Morgan Stanley's former CEO John Mack is joining the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts as a senior advisor, the firm announced Tuesday.
In matters economic, home prices in 20 major U.S. cities fell to the lowest level since 2002, according to S&P/Case-Shiller.
The index for January dropped 3.8%, after a 4.1% drop in the month prior.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index for March eased to 70.2 from 71.6 in February.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury jumped, pushing the yield down to 2.21% from 2.28% Monday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery lost 22 cents to $106.81 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery fell $1.10 to $1,684.40 U.S. an ounce