TSX near 18-month high, buoyed by Agrium, Potash

Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:16pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index held near 18-month highs on Thursday, led in part by U.S. economic data as well as by fertilizer makers Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) and Agrium Inc (AGU.TO: Quote), which rose after Agrium raised its profit forecast.

In the United States, a private survey showed that factory activity advanced at the fastest pace in nearly two years this month, while the government reported the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a five-year low last week.

Canadian stocks were also supported by data that showed Chinese manufacturing growth hit a two-year high this month.

"When you've got stronger economic growth in the two largest economies in the world, that can help," said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy, even as he noted that it was still a bit simplistic. "Nonetheless, undoubtedly it's the way the market's mind tends to work."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 29.57 points, or 0.23 percent, to 12,823.62, after touching 12,863.47, its highest since August 2, 2011.

Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index finished in positive territory.

"There's a growing feeling that we're heading in the right direction. The U.S. economy is showing a little bit of life, and that's spilling over into Canada," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.

Potash was the most influential positive stock on the index, rising 1.7 percent to C$42.63, while shares of Agrium, among the top five weightiest gainers, climbed 2.9 percent to C$113.90.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch