Canadian stocks were higher Monday as investors bought up battered gold and financial stocks that slipped last week in the wake of earnings reports from the big banks.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 57.13 points to 13,337.85 as traders also took in mixed economic news out of Asia.The Canadian dollar inched up 0.01 of a cent to 93.85 cents US amid a weak housing report.Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said that housing starts came in at an annualized rate of 192,235 units in November, a decrease from 198,161 in October. It was also less than the 195,000 reading that economists had expected.U.S. indexes were positive following a strong slate of economic data last week, capped off by U.S. data showing strong job growth last month.The Dow Jones industrials were 11.05 points higher to 16,031.25, the Nasdaq gained 11.32 points to 4,073.84 and the S&P 500 index was up 4.12 points to 1,809.21.While the data was a welcome sign that the American economic revival remains on track, it also raised concerns that the Federal Reserve is set to start winding up its asset buying program sooner than thought, perhaps as early as next week when Fed members meet.“We saw the markets really drifting lower throughout the week on this premise that the economic data was looking good enough to maybe necessitate a Fed move earlier than expected,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“Then we get good news on Friday (which) had all the makings of the ’good news is bad news’ scenario but I think we saw a bit of transition where investors were embracing good news a bit more.”Speculation about tapering those US$85 billion of bond purchases has weighed on markets as the stimulus has kept long-term rates low and supported a strong rally on equity markets this year.The gold sector ran ahead 1.7 per cent while February gold added $6.80 to US$1,235.80 an ounce. Barrick Gold. (TSX:ABX) advanced 52 cents to C$16.90.Guyana Goldfields Inc. (TSX:GUY) has revised up the total capital cost of its Aurora Gold project to US$249 million and approved a spending plan to bring it to commercial production. However, the new estimate is well below an earlier estimate, after the company scaled back its plans earlier this year.The earlier estimate for the project in northern Guyana had proposed a $525-million cost for a mine with a life of 22 years and total production of nearly 4.4 million ounces of gold. Guyana shares were ahead eight cents to $1.68.The financials sector was ahead 0.9 per cent, clawing back some of last week’s 1.6 per cent decline following a mixed earnings performance from the big banks.Fehr said despite a couple of disappointments, the banks are attractive because “they’re able to offset that by some other levers that they can pull within their diversified earnings mix.”Royal Bank (TSX:RY) gained $1.21 to $70.26.The energy sector was ahead 0.35 per cent with oil prices lower following a string of gains last week amid figures showing bigger than expected drawdowns in U.S. inventories. The January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange edged six cents lower to US$97.59 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) improved by 38 cents to $34.58.Equal Energy Ltd. (TSX:EQU) says it’s entered into a definitive agreement to be bought up by Petroflow Energy Corporation and Petroflow Canada Acquisition Corp. for $5.43 a share. Equal says the total transaction value is approximately US$230 million. Equal shares were unchanged at $5.74.The base metals component was flat with March copper up a penny at US$3.25 a pound as China has posted its biggest trade surplus in almost five years, rising to US$33.8 billion from $31.1 billion the month before. Exports ran ahead 12.7 per cent from November last year, well ahead of October’s 5.6 per cent growth. But imports grew only by 5.3 per cent year-over-year amid tepid domestic demand. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) climbed 20 cents to C$25.20.In other corporate developments, food service distributor Sysco is buying rival US Foods for about US$3.5 billion in a cash and stock deal. It will also assume or refinance about $4.7 billion in debt, putting the total value of the deal at about $8.2 billion dollars. When the acquisition closes, Sysco will have annual sales of about $65 billion dollars. Sysco shares surged $4.50 or 13.12 per cent to US$38.81.