TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index touched its strongest level in 10-1/2 months on Thursday, led by financial and resource stocks, spurred in part by encouraging U.S. economic data and corporate results.
Upbeat U.S. housing and labor data, combined with strong earnings reports from some U.S. companies helped push the S&P 500 to a five-year high.
“The main factor was basically the U.S. market doing a little bit better and some of the economic data in the States was stronger than expected this morning and that’s helped out everything,” said Levente Mady, a senior portfolio manager at PI Financial Corp.
“We’ve had a decent run here. The market is just overstretch a tiny little bit, probably the U.S. market more than Canada.”
All 10 of the index’s main sectors finished higher. The dominant financial group, which makes up nearly a third of the index, was up 0.56 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE advanced 65.91 points, or 0.52 pct, to 12,674.73. The index touched its highest level since the beginning of March 2012.
The index’s technology stocks rose 1.55 percent, helped by quarterly results from EBay that beat Wall Street expectations.
Canadian IT services firm CGI Group Inc (GIBa.TO) was the strongest leader in that sector, rising 2.9 percent to C$24.86.
Energy shares rose 0.61 percent, buoyed by firmer oil prices, which rose on economic optimism following the U.S. data. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO rose 2.05 percent to C$29.33. <O/R>
TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) shares were also 1.2 percent higher a day after it said construction of its $2.3 billion Gulf Coast Project was going smoothly and the pipeline is expected to open on schedule by year end.
Some analysts did not expect the market’s optimism to last, however, as January comes to a close, citing a return to the uncertainty due to the unresolved debt ceiling issue in the United States.
“As we get closer to the discussions in the United States on the lifting of the debt ceiling, that would be the dominant theme as far as the markets are concerned,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
Gold stocks were one of the few weak areas on the market, with Kinross Gold Corp (K.TO) the biggest drag, falling 1.26 percent, to C$9.37. <GOL/>
In acquisition news, units of H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (HR_u.TO) slipped 2.14 percent to C$23.28 after it announced a deal to acquire Canadian shopping mall-focused Primaris Retail REIT PMZ_u.TO. Primaris units rose 0.26 percent to C$26.58.
Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) and a Malaysian state investor will buy Aviva Plc’s Malaysian insurance joint venture with lender CIMB Group in a deal that will accelerate Sun Life’s push into southeast Asia. The insurance company’s shares rose 1.07 percent to C$28.24.
Harry Winston Diamond Corp’s HW.TO shares fell as much as 4.5 percent and closed down 2.18 percent to C$14.34 after its plan to buy BHP Billiton’s Ekati diamond operations in Northern Canada hit a snag on Thursday, with a minority partner filing a lawsuit to try to block the deal.
Reporting by Solarina Ho.; Additional reporting by John Tilak. Editing by Andre Grenon