CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on oil and banks, but Agrium dives

Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:43pm EST
 
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* TSX ends up 61.66 points, or 0.49 percent, at 12,701.63
    * Banks rise ahead of earnings, energy stocks up with oil
    * Fertilizer companies hurt by analyst's negative report

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - The main Canadian stock index
rose on Friday as heavyweight energy shares climbed with oil
prices and financial stocks were up ahead of their earnings
season, and the index ended the week with a slight gain despite
sharp mid-week falls.
    Canadian banks rode higher on broadly positive sentiment for
equities. Their quarterly earnings season starts next week, and
some investors expect dividend increases.
    "Banking stocks, for the most part, are on the positive
side," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at
ScotiaMcLeod. "There has been some speculation that a couple of
the banks will be increasing their dividend."
    Bank of Nova Scotia gained 0.7 percent to C$60.34,
Royal Bank of Canada added 0.4 percent to C$64.22, and
Bank of Montreal was up 0.6 percent at C$63.09.
    The energy sector gained as the price of crude oil rebounded
after two days of heavy losses. 
    Suncor Energy Inc had the single biggest positive
effect on the index, moving 1.4 percent higher to C$31.95.
    "We may be reinitiating the uptrend," said Douglas Davis,
chief executive at Davis-Rea. "Possibly it's just a bounceback
after two bad days, but it doesn't look like that."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 bounced off a five-week low hit on Thursday, and ended
up 61.66 points, or 0.49 percent, at 12,701.63. It notched a
gain of 0.12 percent for the week.
    Davis said the beaten-down oil and gas sector might win back
favor as problems getting Canadian oil to market dissipate with
increased rail volume and the likelihood of a U.S. government
green light for the Keystone XL pipeline project to carry crude
from the Alberta oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
    "If Keystone stumbles, we stumble ... but I would bet on it
going through," he said.
    The index's gain echoed moves in U.S. and European markets,
although Canadian miners bucked the trend, with heavy selling in
fertilizer companies in particular.  
    Fertilizer producer Agrium Inc was the heaviest
weight on the index, down 5.2 percent at C$103.14.
    Agrium reported record high fourth-quarter profit after
normal trading hours on Thursday but was hurt by an analyst
downgrade of many of the leading names in the fertilizer sector,
including Potash Corp, which fell 1 percent to C$39.96.
 
    The market mostly brushed off data that showed the Canadian
economy registered its lowest inflation in more than three years
in January and its largest drop in retail sales in almost three
years in December. 
    "I don't see anything that is really outstanding on the
positive side...when you look at things going on in the Canadian
economy," ScotiaMcLeod's Ketchen said.