November 28, 2013 / 1:57 PM / 4 years ago

TSX posts modest gain on U.S. data, higher materials

People attend a market open ceremony for the Toronto Stock Exchange at the TSX Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher in light trading on Thursday as positive U.S. economic data on Wednesday supported sentiment and pushed up materials shares, offsetting weakness in shares of financial companies.

Investors remained encouraged by a survey that showed U.S. consumer sentiment climbed in November and data that indicated the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week.

The Toronto market, which is up about 7.5 percent this year, recorded a second straight daily gain.

But with U.S. stock markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, trading volumes were less than half the daily average.

“A lot of the economic data has been mixed but positive overall,” said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of Richardson GMP.

“The question is, is it enough for the Fed to feel comfortable in reducing some of the stimulus?” he added, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s bond buying program. “That’s a question that hasn’t been answered yet.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 8.77 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,370.83.

About 128 million shares changed hands, compared with an average daily volume of about 294 million shares in October, according to market operator TMX Group.

“It’s a typical U.S. holiday, when things are relatively quiet,” said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada. “Nobody really wants to rock the boat on days like this.”

Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, advanced 0.9 percent, posting the strongest gain.

Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO jumped 2.8 percent to C$25.95, Potash Corp (POT.TO) added 0.7 percent to C$33.41, and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) climbed 0.6 percent to C$17.44.

Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, slipped 0.2 percent ahead of next week’s reporting season for some of the country’s biggest banks.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) gave back 0.2 percent to C$70.37, and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) lost 0.7 percent to C$73.37.

Editing by Marguerita Choy

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