TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index gained for a sixth straight session on Tuesday, led by banks and mining stocks after weak U.S. jobs data bolstered expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will stick with its monetary stimulus program for a while longer.
Optimism about the economic outlook in China, a major buyer of many of Canada's raw materials, also lifted mining companies. Among them, Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO jumped 4.1 percent to C$29.72.
"The numbers out of China seem to be better now and that seems to be having an impact especially on the materials area," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.
He pointed to signs that Australian iron ore and coal companies are ramping up production and to improving data out of Europe, a key market for Chinese exports, as further reason to believe the massive Chinese economy might be stabilizing.
Two of the world's biggest gold miners gave the index the biggest boost, with Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) adding 4.9 percent to C$26.99, and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) gaining 4.8 percent to hit a one-month high of C$20.47.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 61.53 points, or 0.47 percent, at 13,248.06. It has gained almost 3 percent since October 11, and is at its highest level since July 2011.
U.S. employers added 148,000 positions last month, the Labor Department said, below expectations of 180,000. While the job count for August was revised higher and the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent, employment gains in July were revised lower and were the weakest since June 2012.
While the soft jobs number suggests demand in Canada's largest export market will remain weak, the prospect of a looser-for-longer U.S. monetary policy has encouraged Canadian investors.
"There is a fair amount of stability in the Canadian market and people seem to be quite comfortable," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
"Our market is still considerably behind the gains they've had in the U.S. market year to date, so maybe we've still got room to outperform the U.S. market for November and December."
Banks also featured heavily in the list of gainers with Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) up 0.9 percent at C$62.54, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) rising 1.2 percent to C$86.41, and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) adding 0.7 percent to C$72.63.
ScotiaMcLeod's Ketchen said he expects investors will cautiously return to the market given the low-interest-rate environment, with banks, pipelines, utilities and telecoms likely to benefit.
Editing by Peter Galloway