04/28/2015 17:01 EDT | Updated 06/28/2015 01:12 EDT

Toronto stock market inches higher on gold prices; New York mixed

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market pushed ahead with a tiny gain on Tuesday as the gold sector emerged as one of the few shining examples in an otherwise dull session.The S&P/TSX composite index closed near its highs of the day, rising 1.99 points to 15,346.07.The loonie moved up 0.49 of a U.S. cent to 83.13 cents.Driving the market were gold stocks, which climbed as the June bullion contract rose $10.70 to US$1,213.90 an ounce.The TSX energy sector was the biggest decliner, falling 0.8 per cent, as benchmark crude oil gained seven cents to settle at US$57.06 a barrel.Traders have been pushing gold near its highest levels since early April, at least partly on the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve could delay hikes to its interest rate, said Colin Cieszynski, senior markets analyst at CMC Markets Canada.In New York, markets were mixed as the Fed began a two-day meeting on when it should start raising interest rates again.The Dow Jones industrial average was up 72.17 points at 18,110.14, the Nasdaq was down 4.83 points at 5,055.42 and the S&P 500 advanced 5.84 points to 2,114.76.Earlier this year it was widely predicted that U.S. interest rates would be bumped up in June, but the consensus expectation has shifted towards it happening later in the year after recent weak economic data."It definitely has a lot of people thinking that maybe the U.S. economy isn't as strong as people thought it was three months ago," Cieszynski said in an interview."The signs are starting to point to a wider slowdown. Not going off the rails like we're seeing in other parts of the world, but that perhaps the U.S. isn't charging ahead quite as quickly as people thought."On Tuesday, the latest figures showed U.S. consumer spending dropped to its lowest level in four months while weakness reflected in the latest tally on home prices added extra pressure to the markets.A mixed bag of U.S. financial results also came in with appliance maker Whirlpool slashing its annual forecast for 2015, Coach saying it was affected by the higher U.S. dollar and automaker Ford hurt by poor sales of key vehicles like the F-150 pickup.Coming in above expectations was technology giant Apple Inc., which posted a record quarterly profit of $13.6 billion, and drugmaker Merck & Co. which faced currency pressures and weaker sales in its consumer health business.Traders also reacted to the latest financial results from Twitter, which appeared to leak ahead of their scheduled release after stock markets closed. The company's adjusted earnings per share came in above analyst expectations but its revenue fell short.Shares of Twitter dropped three per cent before its stock was halted. When trading resumed, the stock dropped by more than 25 per cent.Follow @dj_friend on Twitter