CANADA STOCKS-Banks lift TSX on Cyprus hopes; BlackBerry falls
* TSX rises 9.48 points, or 0.07 percent, to 12,757.35 * Six of 10 major sectors advance * Index falls 0.57 percent this week * BlackBerry shares slip on lackluster U.S. launch By John Tilak TORONTO, March 22 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Friday as hopes that Cyprus will strike a bailout deal before a looming deadline boosted financial shares and helped offset an 8 percent fall in BlackBerry. Shares of BlackBerry stumbled as it faced a difficult challenge launching the sale of its new smartphone in the United States. The European Central Bank gave Cyprus until Monday to raise billions of euros to secure an international bailout, which could help the country avert a default and banking meltdown. With the Parliament having rejected one deal, investors were eyeing what is expected to be a hectic weekend of negotiations. The Cyprus predicament has highlighted risks to the economic recovery in the broader euro zone, and investors fear that the failure to cut a deal could have a ripple effect in other countries. "The Cypriots do not hold a lot of cards in this game of brinkmanship, especially after coming back empty-handed from Moscow," said Stephen Wood, chief market strategist, North America, at Russell Investments, which has more than $162 billion in assets under management. "Our biggest concern about Cyprus would be, 'Does it have a contagion consequence in Spain or Italy?'," he added. "Right now it doesn't appear to be the case." For now, investors are largely assuming that lawmakers in the island will work this out somehow. The Toronto market's gains followed declines in three of the previous four sessions. "People seem to have become more optimistic as the week has progressed," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets. He noted that investors are taking an approach that the negotiators will "come up with a new bailout plan and not just let the whole thing spiral out of control." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 9.48 points, or 0.07 percent, at 12,757.35. The index ended the week 0.57 percent lower. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Friday. Financials, the index's weightiest sector, gained 0.5 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest bank, added 1 percent to C$61.37. Energy stocks shed their initial gains and were down 0.1 percent as the price of oil fell back. The materials group, which includes mining stocks, gave back 0.3 percent, with gold producers falling 0.5 percent. Gold prices fell 0.4 percent. Gold stocks are down nearly 15 percent since the start of the year. "The safe haven trade got very expensive. Peace of mind got very expensive," Wood said. "Investors have come to recognize that they need to look into risk assets." In company news, First Quantum Minerals Ltd said it secured enough shareholder support to take over Inmet Mining Corp, sealing a C$5.1 billion ($4.98 billion) deal that gives it control of one of the world's largest untapped copper deposits. First Quantum shares were down 2.3 percent.
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