CANADA STOCKS-TSX gains on US economic hope; Viterra soars

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:46pm EDT
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* TSX up 77.92 points, or 0.63 pct, at 12,455.82

* Nine of 10 sectors stronger; info tech sags

* Viterra surges nearly 10 pct on takeover speculation

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 15 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended higher on Thursday on a stream of U.S. data that lifted investor hopes that the economy of Canada's largest trading partner is on the mend.

New claims for jobless benefits fell to a four-year low last week, suggesting an improving labor market, while surveys from regional Federal Reserve banks showed gains in manufacturing in New York and a pickup in business conditions in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

Among big names on the upside, Barrick Gold rose 1.5 percent to C$43.54, while Bank of Nova Scotia climbed 2.1 percent to C$55.35. Gold mining shares rose 0.3 percent and financials gained 1.1 percent.

Gold prices bounced up after shedding nearly 2 percent in the previous session, when they were hurt by growing optimism on the outlook for the U.S. economy, which boosted the greenback and risk assets such as stocks at the expense of the safe-haven precious metal.

"The recent economic data that has come out of the U.S. is bolstering the view that the economy out there is certainly on firm footing as far as the rebound is concerned," said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.   Continued...