CANADA STOCKS-Banks help push TSX higher despite Ukraine worry

Wed Mar 5, 2014 4:57pm EST
 
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* TSX rises 14.31 points, or 0.10 percent, to 14,304.17
    * Six of the 10 main index sectors decline
    * Falling oil price weighs on energy shares
    * Index up about 5 percent this year

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
slightly on Wednesday despite continued worry over the crisis in
Ukraine and sluggish economic data from the United States, with
advances in banks overcoming weakness in energy shares. 
    Russia rebuffed Western demands to withdraw its forces in
Ukraine's Crimea region to their bases on a day of high-stakes
diplomacy in Paris aimed at averting the risk of war over
Ukraine. 
    Data showed U.S. private employers adding fewer workers than
expected in February and growth in the services sector hitting a
four-year low. 
    Investors also digested news that the Bank of Canada had
left its benchmark interest rate unchanged but continued to
express concern about weak inflation. 
    The Toronto market's benchmark index climbed for a third
straight session on Wednesday, and has gained more than 5
percent so far this year. 
    "Sentiment is fairly good. Money is flowing into Canadian
equities," said Diana Avigdor, portfolio manager and head of
trading at Barometer Capital Management. "Stocks are technically
sound and have been exhibiting strength."
    Investors are showing a greater willingness to take on risk,
she said, while adding that "it's a slow process, and there's
still a lot of cash on the sidelines. People are not fully
invested." 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 14.31 points, or 0.10 percent, at 14,304.17.
Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
climbed 0.5 percent. Royal Bank of Canada added 0.7
percent to C$72.34, and Bank of Nova Scotia rose 1
percent to C$63.72.
    Gold-mining stocks also advanced, with Goldcorp Inc 
gaining 1 percent to C$30.34 and Eldorado Gold Corp 
adding 2.4 percent to C$7.72. 
    A selloff in the price of oil weighed on shares of energy
producers. In the group, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd 
lost 0.6 percent to C$40.70.