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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index climbed on Tuesday as positive U.S. economic data and the U.S. Federal Reserve's defense of its stimulative monetary policy buoyed investor sentiment.
Figures showing a surge in U.S. factory activity in March came a day after Fed Chair Janet Yellen defended the central bank's easy monetary policy, signaling that stimulative measures to boost the U.S. economy will be necessary for some time to come.
Her remarks rallied global markets and helped the Canadian benchmark stock index record a ninth straight monthly gain in the previous session. The TSX index is up about 5.6 percent this year.
"The mood is upbeat," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod. "The modest gains that we've had continue to inspire confidence."
"I expect the TSX to do better this year than it did last year," he said.
After digesting mixed signals about the state of the global economy in recent days, investors are awaiting a fresh wave of data later this week, including the monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.
"We're expecting to see some fairly robust employment growth, and it does look like things are starting to improve again coming out of the winter," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada. "There's some potential for positive surprises."
He said he expects strengthening demand for commodities to help support the Canadian equity market this year.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 45.24 points, or 0.32 percent, at 14,380.55. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Industrial shares gained 0.8 percent, with Air Canada ACb.TO jumping 4.7 percent to C$5.79, and Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) adding 3.4 percent to C$4.25.
Air Canada's gain followed news that the airline had finalized an order for 61 Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 Max single-aisle jets.
The healthcare sector advanced 0.5 percent, supported by a 1 percent rise in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO) to C$146.96.
Editing by Peter Galloway