Toronto stocks edge higher after six day of losses
By Peter N Henderson
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced slightly on Monday as an upgrade of the U.S. credit outlook and strong domestic housing starts helped lift shares of financial companies, while energy shares rebounded from recent weakness.
Standard & Poor's upgraded its credit outlook for the United States government to "stable" from "negative", reducing the threat of a further downgrade to the country's sovereign debt rating.
The index's gains were kept in check by data from China that indicated weakness in May exports and domestic activity struggling to pick up, increasing the risk that economic growth will slow further in the second quarter and that full-year forecasts may be cut.
Monday's gain was a minor recovery after six days of decline for the TSX index. The energy sector, which has been on the defensive since mid-May, rose 0.2 percent and played the biggest role of any sector in the rise. Major gainers included Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote), which climbed 0.44 percent to C$31.80.
The TSX financials subgroup added 0.2 percent, helped by data showing Canadian house starts jumped by much more than expected in May from April.
E-L Financial (ELF.TO: Quote) jumped 9.5 percent to C$648 after the holding company said it had sold its Dominion of Canada General Insurance unit to U.S. insurer Travelers Co (TRV.N: Quote) for $1.1 billion.
"The banks recent earning reports have been on balance very solid," said Elvis Picardo, vice president of research at Global Securities. "Given the global decline in the appetite for risky assets, these groups have been doing well." Continued...