4 Min Read
* TSX rises 76.85 points, 0.62 pct, 12,499.76 * Index hits highest level since Sept 14 * Market closing level highest since Apr 2 * Energy, financials stocks lead market higher * Barrick Gold biggest drag; shares down 9 percent By John Tilak TORONTO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Canada's benchmark stock index rose on Thursday to its highest level in nearly seven weeks, as positive economic data from the United States and China more than offset disappointing results from mining giants Barrick Gold Corp and Cameco Corp. U.S. data showed consumer confidence climbed to a more than four-year high in October and the pace of growth in manufacturing picked up modestly. The numbers pushed U.S. stock markets sharply higher. In China, official and private-sector factory surveys signaled the economy was regaining some traction, although the recovery is expected to be sluggish. "We've started the month off with a swath of economic data from across the world. The common theme is that the global economy is seeing stabilization," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager with Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of Richardson GMP. "In some instances, in China and the U.S., the data was better than expected. That's helping drive the market," he added. The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark S&P/TSX composite index finished up 76.85 points, or 0.62 pct, at 12,499.76. Its session high of 12,511.46 was the highest level since Sept 14. It was the strongest finish since April 2, when it closed at 12,507.06. The market got a boost from its energy subgroup, up 1.34 percent. Suncor Energy Inc provided the biggest boost of any company. Suncor rose 3.46 percent to C$34.68, the day after Canada's biggest oil and gas company posted a 21 percent rise in third-quarter profit and cut spending on oil sands projects. The financial subgroup also supported the index, rising 0.66 percent. Royal Bank of Canada was up 1.12 percent at C$57.58, while Bank of Nova Scotia ended up 0.76 percent at C$54.66. Together, the energy and financial sectors form nearly 60 percent of the index's weight. Shares in Catamaran Corp rose 8.74 percent to C$51.00 after the pharmacy benefit manager raised its earnings forecast for the year. MINERS, BCE DRAG AFTER RESULTS Gains in energy and financial shares were partly offset by a 0.15 percent decline in the materials group. Barrick Gold, the world's top gold miner, fell 9.48 percent to C$36.56 after it reported a sharp decline in third-quarter profit and forecast higher costs associated with its huge Pascua-Lama mine in South America. Barrick was the biggest drag of any single stock on the index. John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, said there might be a limit to Barrick's decline over the long term. "Most gold stocks are down. But the commodity itself is up. That will help put a floor under it," he added. Gold prices rose as gains in stock markets increased the appetite for commodities. The second biggest drag on the index was BCE Inc. Shares of Canada's biggest telecom provider dropped 1.17 percent after it reported quarterly profit fell from a year earlier. It finished at C$43.15. Cameco Corp, the world's largest publicly-listed uranium producer, also weighed on the market. Its shares ended 5.01 percent lower at C$18.40 after the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company cut its long-term uranium production target by 10 percent on Wednesday. Offsetting some of the declines in the materials group was a 5.93 percent rise in Teck Resources Ltd shares. Teck closed at C$33.58, supported by firmer copper prices, which rose on the Chinese data. China is the world's largest consumer of copper.