TSX gains as U.S. data lifts economic hopes

Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:58pm EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index climbed on Tuesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it has seen recent signs of strength in the economy, while upbeat U.S. retail sales data soothed fears about the health of the global recovery.

The Toronto index followed U.S. stocks, which also got a lift from the better than expected February U.S. retail sales report. .N<MKTS/GLOB>

"The consumer is contributing to the majority of GDP growth so retail business is very important," said Marcus Xu, director of equity investments at Genus Capital Management in Vancouver.

Heavyweight gainers in Toronto included Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), up 2.6 percent at C$34.04, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote), which was 2.2 percent higher at C$58.00. Teck Resources TCKb.TO rose nearly 3 percent at C$36.53 and fellow miner First Quantum (FM.TO: Quote) was up 3.3 percent at C$21.13.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session up 109.68 points, or 0.88 percent, at 12,537.69, with nine of its 10 key sectors higher. The materials group sank 0.4 percent as gold prices came under pressure as bullion's safe-haven appeal faded as hopes for the economy rose. <GOL/>

The U.S. central bank offered few clues on the chances of it undertaking further stimulus measures and described the economy as "expanding moderately," the same words it used in its January statement. But it also said the economy still faced significant downside risks.

The Fed didn't signal any deviance from its plan to keep interest rates low and that fueled optimism about economic growth, pushing up oil and copper prices, and correspondingly energy and base-metal mining shares in Toronto. <O/R>

Investor sentiment about the economic outlook in Europe was also bolstered after euro-zone finance ministers gave final approval to a second bailout for Greece and data in Germany showed analyst and investor sentiment was significantly more robust than expected in March.   Continued...

People walk by a sign displaying TSX information in Toronto, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch