TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended higher on Friday as concerns about global growth eased and prospects of a U.S. rate hike before the end of the year improved investor sentiment, but the move failed to offset a volatile week, with the market still losing 2 percent on the week.
The TSX was sharply higher earlier, helped by reassuring comments from Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, as well as data that showed the U.S. economy, Canada's largest trading partner, expanded more than forecast during the second quarter.
"It's been an unusually volatile month ... (Yellen's) comments yesterday about the likelihood of rates going up this year seems to have given some comfort to the market," said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
A fall in BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) shares, however, helped temper some of the gains. Shares fell 7.7 percent to C$8.64, after the smartphone maker reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results on Friday.
A 4.9 percent tumble in the healthcare sector, precipitated by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX.TO), was the biggest contributor to the pull back in the TSX's earlier gains. Shares of the index superweight sank 4.9 percent to C$265.01.
Valeant's moves shadowed U.S. biotech shares, which officially entered bear market territory. The sell-off began on Monday after leading U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted her intent to tackle unnecessarily high prices in some drug markets.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended 39.9 points, or 0.3 percent higher, at 13,378.57.
Six of the index's 10 key groups were in positive territory. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the TSX for a 1.52-to-1 ratio on the upside.
"A lot of people are going to breath a sigh of relief once this quarter is over," said Picardo, who is forecasting a fourth quarter rally once the Fed gives more clarity on the rate hike timing, and China, which has been hit by a string of disappointing economic data, shows some stability.
The most influential positive movers on the index included Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO), which advanced 1.7 percent to C$74.37, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), which rose 1.2 percent to C$51.61.
The industrials group, home to CN Rail, rallied 1.7 percent, while the heavyweight financials climbed 1 percent. Six of the top 10 gainers carrying the most weight were financial names.
The materials group fell 0.9 percent, with gold mining shares tracking bullion prices that eased after Yellen's comments boosted the U.S. dollar. [GOL/]
Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by David Gregorio and Andrew Hay