Wednesday, January 09, 2013 00:48 PM EST Stocks gain by noon hour Gold takes hit The Toronto stock market was slightly higher after a positive earnings report and outlook from resource giant Alcoa Inc. The S&P/TSX composite index gained 8.51 points to greet noon Wednesday at 12,513.32 The Canadian dollar faded 0.02 cents to 101.35 cents U.S. Health-care stocks fared best, most notably Valeant Pharmaceuticals, up 2.2% to $62.91. Among industrials, also a major gainer, Westport Innovations sprinted ahead 3.8% to $28.09. Gold stocks took it on the chin, most notably, Alacer Gold, which capsized 5.9% to $4.44. On the economic ledger, housing starts in Canada 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 2.54 points to 1,227.92 Eight of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher by noon, led by health-care stocks, up 1.1%, while industrials gained 0.9% and real-estate issues took on 0.5%. The six laggards were weighed mostly by gold, down 1%, information technology dipped 0.6%, and the metals and mining group fell 0.5%. ON WALLSTREET U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, as investors welcomed an upbeat start to corporate earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered 59.37 points at 13,388.20 The S&P 500 prospered 4.88 points to 1,462.03. The Nasdaq Composite took on 13.01 points to 3,104.82 Aluminum producer Alcoa, the first Dow component to report fourth-quarter results, posted earnings after the bell Tuesday that were in line with forecasts but sales were better than expected. Analysts expect earnings for companies in the S&P 500 to grow 3.2% in the fourth quarter versus last year, according to S&P Capital IQ. Banks and companies in the consumer discretionary sector are expected to lead earnings growth. Wells Fargo will report Friday, making it the first major financial institution to release results for the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley, which reports next week, announced plans Wednesday to cut 1,600 jobs. Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan will also release quarterly results next week. On Wednesday, Boeing was the best performing blue-chip. The stock rose 3%, recovering from losses earlier in the week after a series of setbacks involving its new 787 Dreamliner. Apollo Group shares fell after the company reported a sharp drop in enrollment at the University of Phoenix. Facebook shares rose 3% after the social network said it would make an unspecified announcement next week. The stock is now within striking distance of $30 U.S. a share, a level it has not touched since last July. Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note gained a bit by noon Wednesday, lowering yields to 1.86% from Tuesday’s 1.87%. Oil prices slid 23 cents to $92.92 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices shed $8.40 an ounce to $1,653.50 U.S.