CANADA STOCKS-TSX nears 3-year high as energy, BlackBerry shares gain
* TSX rises 21.36 points, or 0.15 percent, to 14,227.08 * Six of 10 main index sectors advance * BlackBerry jumps on plans to make BBM available to Windows Phone By John Tilak TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index climbed on Monday to its highest in nearly 3 years as stronger oil prices helped push up shares of energy producers and shares of BlackBerry Ltd jumped. BlackBerry shot up 6.9 percent after the smartphone maker said it will make its messaging service BBM available to Microsoft's Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms. A Bloomberg report saying Ford Motor Co plans to base its next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry's QNX platform also supported the share move. Investors were encouraged by data showing an improvement in German business morale, which beat market expectations in February to hit its strongest level since July 2011. And the market shrugged off a report showing a slowdown in U.S. services sector growth and in the pace of hiring in February, with cold weather likely having an impact. The TSX, which is coming off three straight weekly gains, has advanced in 13 of the last 14 sessions. After underperforming U.S. stock markets in 2013, the benchmark Canadian index has bounced back strongly. It is up about 4.4 percent this year. "We're seeing strong momentum on the upside. We don't see that changing anytime soon," said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. "It does feel like investors are jumping on the bandwagon for fear of being left behind." "The fundamentals are very much in place for a continuation of the rally," he added. "You've got strong earnings growth, you've got low inflation and you've got central banks that are cooperative." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 21.36 points, or 0.15 percent, at 14,227.08, after reaching its highest since early 2011. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Gold-mining shares benefited from a 1-percent gain in the price of bullion, with Barrick Gold Corp advancing 1 percent to C$23.52. Shares of energy producers rose 0.8 percent. Suncor Energy Inc added 0.9 percent to C$36.97, and Encana Corp jumped 2.1 percent to C$21.47. Investors also turned their attention to the major Canadian banks, which will begin reporting quarterly results this week. Bank of Montreal will report on Tuesday. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, were little changed, with Bank of Nova Scotia climbing 0.3 percent to C$63.51.
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