TSX lifted by Manulife results, ECB rate cut

Thu May 2, 2013 5:29pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Financial shares pushed Canada's main stock index higher on Thursday after the European Central Bank cut interest rates and insurers Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO: Quote) and Great West Life (GWO.TO: Quote) reported encouraging earnings.

The market was also supported by data showing the number of Americans filing new jobless benefits claims fell sharply last week to its lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09 recession, a sign the job market is still healing even though the economy remains weak.

The European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first time in 10 months, promising to provide as much liquidity as euro zone banks need well into next year and to help smaller companies get access to credit.

But the gains were limited by data that showed manufacturing across the world stumbled last month, underlining the fragility of the global economy and building the case for more action by leading central banks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 58.35 points, or 0.47 percent, at 12,379.64.

The resource-filled index, whose direction is closely tied to the path of the global economy, is down on the year, trailing gains on the S&P 500 .SPX and other U.S. stock indexes.

"For Toronto, a move above 13,000 would be a major event that could bring a lot of people back into the market," said Ron Meisels, technical analyst and president of Phases & Cycles in Montreal. "Retail investors are sitting on their hands."

"Historically, Toronto does best in the tail-end of the bull market," he added.   Continued...

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