Wednesday, January 09, 2013 10:40 AM EST Slight gain for TSX Alcoa earnings in focus Markets in Toronto opened higher on Wednesday as investor sentiment got a boost after Alcoa opened the U.S. earnings season with an optimistic outlook for world demand. The S&P/TSX composite index gained 16.72 points to begin Wednesday’s session at 12,521.53 The Canadian dollar inched up 0.01 cents to 101.47 cents U.S. TransCanada Corp, the country's largest pipeline company, said it has been chosen by Progress Energy Canada Ltd to design, build and operate a gas transmission project in British Columbia. TransCanada shares got a lift of 73 cents to $47.98 early Wednesday. Eldorado Gold Corp said it will boost gold output by 7-10 % in 2013, as it ramps up production at its Efemcukuru mine in Turkey. The company’s shares dipped 15 cents to $12.12 soon after the opening bell. Colombia will create a wilderness park and prohibit mining in a region rich in gold and silver in the country's northeast where Eco Oro Minerals Corp. had hoped to produce precious metals, the government said on Tuesday. Eco Oro shares were unchanged at 77 cents early Wednesday. On the economic ledger, housing starts declined by a modest 1.7% to an annualized 198,000 in December, just above market expectations for a 195,000 reading. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also says the level of starts represents the lowest level of homebuilding activity since November 2011. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange grew 6.05 points to 1,231.43 Nine of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher at the outset, led by industrials and health-care, each surging 0.6%, while global base metals progressed 0.4%. The five laggards were weighed mostly by gold, down 0.8%, while materials and information technology each dipped 0.2%. ON WALLSTREET U.S. stocks edged higher at the opening bell Wednesday, as investors wait for more corporate earnings to confirm a positive start to the reporting period. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered 72.41 points at 13,401.30 The S&P 500 prospered 7.19 points to 1,464.34. The Nasdaq Composite took on 16.99 points to 3,108.80 Aluminum producer Alcoa became the first Dow component to report fourth-quarter results after the bell on Tuesday, posting earnings in line with expectations but better-than-expected sales. Boeing shares rebounded from losses earlier in the week following a series of setbacks involving its new 787 Dreamliner. U.S.-listed shares of ArcelorMittal sank 4% after the steelmaker announced plans to raise $3.5 billion U.S. in a stock offering to pay down debt. Shares of wireless broadband provider Clearwire surged on news that Dish Network had offered to buy the company, kicking off a takeover battle with Sprint Shares of Sprint tumbled. Apollo Group shares fell after the company reported late Tuesday a sharp drop in enrollment at the University of Phoenix. Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note were static early Wednesday, keeping yields at Tuesday’s 1.87%. Oil prices took on 31 cents to $93.46 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices shed $6.30 an ounce to $1,655.90 U.S.