TSX ekes out gain on Potash Corp jump; drops on week
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed slightly higher on Friday, helped by a sharp jump in shares of fertilizer producer Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote), but the gain was limited by a fall in heavily-weighted banks after data showed Canadians are more indebted than ever.
Potash Corp jumped 2.3 percent to C$33.57 after reports surfaced that tycoon Suleiman Kerimov would sell his major stake in Russian potash producer Uralkali to investor Vladimir Kogan.
The Potash Corp gain reflected optimism that a change in Uralkali's ownership might lead to it rejoining fellow potash producer Belaruskali in an export partnership, which would support prices for the crop nutrient.
"When you have reports like this flying around, people tend to focus on the underlying fundamentals, which are that demand for potash is not going to go away in a hurry," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "At some point, the stock has to be a screaming buy."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session up 22.35 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,723.40. It fell 0.76 percent on the week.
Financial stocks were the biggest weight on the day as Statistics Canada said the ratio of household debt to income in Canada hit a record high in the second quarter.
"If the Canadian consumer is strapped because of a huge debt load, then that has implications for the broad Canadian economy, and the banks are, of course, the biggest players here," Picardo said.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) slipped 0.7 percent to C$65.30, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) lost 0.4 percent to C$89.92, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) was down 0.2 percent at C$59.30. Continued...