Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:16 AM EST Toronto slightly higher Sun Life, Extendicare in focus The Toronto stock market notched higher Thursday amid rising commodity prices. The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 12.74 points to begin the session at 12,621.56 The Canadian dollar inched higher by 0.03 cents to 101.47 cents U.S. In corporate developments, Sun Life Financial Inc. and Khazanah Nasional Berhad are teaming up to purchase 98% of a Malaysian life insurance company from its two current owners, which include British insurance group Aviva PLC. Sun Life and Khazanah are purchasing the CIMB Aviva Assurance Berhad life insurance company as well as CIMB Aviva Takaful Berhad for a total shared cost of $586 million. Sun Life shares took on five cents to $27.99 Health-care stocks led the pack, with Extendicare shares surging 1.3% to $7.96. On the economic beat, Statistics Canada revealed this morning that our investment in foreign securities improved to $7.8 billion in November, nearly all in U.S. instruments. The nation’s number-crunchers also said that foreign investment in Canadian securities eased to $5.6 billion, mainly federal government debt instruments. Nevertheless, the average monthly foreign investment in Canadian securities still stands well above that of Canadian investment in foreign securities since 2009. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange staggered 0.94 points to 1,229.26 All but three of the 14 Toronto subgroups started the day in positive territory, led by health-care stocks, up 0.6%, consumer discretionaries, up 0.4%, and energy issues, gaining 0.3%. The three laggards were gold, down 1.3%, materials, sliding 0.6%, and real-estate, off 0.1%. ON WALLSTREET U.S. stocks opened higher Thursday as upbeat reports on the economy offset mixed corporate results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hiked 37.77 points to begin Thursday at 13,549. The S&P 500 reacquired 3.09 points to 1,475.72. The Nasdaq Composite moved up 12.26 points to 3,129.81 Shares of residential construction companies rallied, with Hovnanian, Pulte Group and DR Horton up in early trading. Boeing's problems continued, with shares sinking 2% after regulators in Europe, India and Japan joined the Federal Aviation Administration after it grounded all Dreamliner planes. They cited worries about onboard lithium-ion batteries that have twice caught fire recently. Meanwhile, investors got the next batch of big bank earnings to parse through. Bank of America posted fourth-quarter earnings that fell from a year earlier but topped forecasts. The bank's results included a number of mortgage-related charges. Citigroup reported profits that missed expectations, partly due to high legal costs amounting to $1.3 billion U.S. BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, reported better-than-expected earnings. American Express, Capital One and Intel will report results after the closing bell. Overall, S&P 500 companies are expected to report earnings growth of 3.2% for the last three months of 2012, according to S&P's Capital IQ. Shares of Herbalife fell after the vitamin supplement company said it would likely incur temporary expenses relate to "recent events." Activist investor Bill Ackman, who runs the $11-billion U.S. hedge fund Pershing Square, has called Herbalife a pyramid scheme and publicly said that he's betting $1 billion U.S. that its stock will fall to zero. CBS shares jumped after the company announced it would take its American outdoor division, which runs billboards, and convert it into a real estate investment trust. It's planning to outright sell its European and Asian outdoor operations. Before the market opened, the government reported a five-year low for weekly jobless claims in the latest week. The pace of home building surged in December, as the market bounced back from the impact of Superstorm Sandy. The Census Bureau said housing starts increased 12.1% over the previous month. Applications for new building permits, considered a leading indicator, jumped 28.8% from last year's level. Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank, raising yields to 1.87% from Wednesday’s 1.82%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices added $1.10 to $95.34 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices slid nine dollars an ounce to $1,674.20 U.S.