CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises as investors buy up defensive shares

Thu Jul 2, 2015 11:20am EDT
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* S&P/TSX index up 45.77 points, 0.31 pct, at 14,599.1

* Valeant rises 2.41 percent to C$283.76

OTTAWA, July 2 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose modestly on Thursday as investors pushed into healthcare shares and other defensive sectors, offsetting weakness in commodity-sensitive stocks.

Rattled by the Greek crisis, the TSX index has given up the gains it made earlier in the year. Market focus on Thursday was on a Greek referendum on the weekend on an international bailout deal that the country's prime minister has urged Greeks to reject. Greece defaulted on its debt to the International Monetary Fund earlier this week.

Concern about referendum's outcome left investors favoring sectors that are typically thought of as being save havens. The healthcare sector rose 1 percent, with Valeant Pharmaceuticals among the biggest positive influences on the index, rising 2.41 percent to C$283.76.

"We know that going into the weekend with the potential for some uncertainty coming from the Greek referendum vote that investors might be positioning portfolios ahead of some of that volatility that might come at the beginning of next week," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

A slightly weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report was also prompting investors to pick up defensive shares as the data was not strong enough to decisively determine when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start to raise interest rates, Fehr said.

"It was solid, but I wouldn't say it was overly inspiring of confidence, so we're seeing some investors rotate back into some of those names where they might feel more comfortable with if the Fed isn't going to hike sooner rather than later," he said.

At 10:41 a.m. EDT (1441 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 45.77 points, or 0.31 percent, at 14,599.1. Of the index's 10 main groups, seven were in positive territory.   Continued...