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TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose modestly on Wednesday as a more than 2 percent increase in oil prices boosted shares of energy and resource companies.
A smaller-than-expected increase in U.S. crude inventories along with supply disruptions in Libya helped lift U.S. crude futures $1.14, or 2.4 percent, to $49.51 a barrel. [O/R]
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was the biggest lift on the Canadian stock index, rising 2.4 percent to C$43.86, followed by Suncor Energy (SU.TO), which was up 1.5 percent at C$42.05. The energy sector .SPTTEN as a whole rose 2.2 percent.
Investors on Bay Street also shrugged off the official start of Britain's divorce from the European Union.
That suggests the market could be more resilient to geopolitical factors than had been anticipated after only a muted market response to U.S. Republican leaders pulling legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system last week, said Bryden Teich, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management in Toronto.
"There's more of a floor to the market than people had been giving credit to," Teich said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 59.06 points, or 0.38 percent, at 15,657.63.Of the index's 10 main groups, seven were in positive territory.
Materials stocks also helped support the market, with the sector .GSPTTMT up 0.7 percent. Shares of Teck Resources (TECKb.TO) were up 1.8 percent at C$29.54 after the company reconfirmed its annual production guidance.
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) shares edged up 0.4 percent at C$66.13 the day before executives were set to face shareholders after media reports which suggested branch staff were pressured to meet sales targets.
Bank stocks have rallied in recent sessions, though the sector .SPTTFS is still down 1.6 percent since the report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was first published this month.
Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by James Dalgleish