Thursday, January 10, 2013 00:20 PM EST Stocks remain positive Coutu soars North American stock markets grew Thursday amid healthy gains in commodities thanks to some surprisingly strong trade figures out of China overnight. The S&P/TSX composite index gained 48.24 points to greet noon at 12,570.48 The Canadian dollar gained 0.17 cents to 101.41 cents U.S. China is the world's biggest consumer of industrial metals and energy and the strong trade figures this morning drew considerable attention. Exports rose 14.1% and imports grew 6%, picking up considerable pace from November when exports rose a modest 2.9% and imports were flat. A broad measure of Chinese credit growth also rose sharply. Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc. posted net profit of 26 cents per share in its latest quarter, up 10% from 23 cents in the year-earlier period. Shares are up 26 cents to $14.48 Astral Media Inc. posted a $59.6-million profit in the first quarter, compared to $55.8 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue was flat, gaining 1% to $271 million. It provided little information pertaining to BCE's latest efforts to acquire the company. Shares are up 29 cents to $47.19 Economically speaking, Statistics Canada said its new housing price Index rose 0.1% in November, following a 0.2% increase in October. Moreover, building permits were issued worth $6.2 billion in November, down 17.9% from October and the lowest level since January 2012. This follows a 15.9% increase in October. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange grew 9.83 points to 1,238.94 All 14 Toronto subgroups were up midday. Gold soared 2%, while materials gained 1.4%, and information technology picked up 1.3%. ON WALLSTREET U.S. stocks shaved their morning gains and turned mixed Thursday afternoon, as investors took a cautious approach ahead of earnings reports from bigger corporate players. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 21.53 points to 13,412 The S&P 500 added 2.97 points to 1,463.99. The Nasdaq Composite doffed 1.79 points to 3,104.02 Financials were among the biggest winners, with Bank of America leading the gains on the Dow. Technology stocks and material companies lagged. Stocks started the day on the positive side, fueled by Chinese export data that topped expectations. On Thursday, Supervalu reported that it swung to a profit during its fiscal third quarter. The grocery store operator also announced that it will sell Jewel-Osco, Albertson's and some of its chains to Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based investment firm, for $3.3 billion U.S. Shares of Supervalu surged. Shares of Nokia rallied after the phone company reported better-than-expected sales for its handset business. Overall, analysts expect earnings for companies in the S&P 500 to grow 2.4% year-over-year, according to FactSet Research, with banks expected to lead the way. Wells Fargo will report Friday, making it the first major financial institution to release fourth-quarter figures. Most of the other big banks report next week. In other corporate news, nutritional supplement company Herbalife is hosting an investor conference to rebut charges from hedge fund manager Bill Ackman that it's running a pyramid scheme. Herbalife executives were confident in the company's defense, saying it's a "legitimate company with legitimate customers." Shares of Tiffany & Co declined after the luxury retailer said sales during the holiday season rose just 4% worldwide, at the low-end of the company's expectations. Tiffany said it now expects its full-year profit to be at the lower end of its prior forecast of $3.20 to $3.40 U.S. a share. The company also said earnings growth in 2013 will be subdued due to uncertainty about the economy in all of its major markets. Exports rose 14% in December, China's government said in a report that topped expectations Investors also digested fresh data on the labour market Thursday. The number of people filing for initial jobless claims rose 4,000 to 371,000 in latest week. Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sagged, raising yields to 1.89% from Wednesday’s 1.85%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices soared 97 cents to $94.07 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices hiked $21 an ounce to $1,676.50 U.S.