March 26, 2012 / 9:04 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 3-week peak after Bernanke comments

* TSX up 109.13 points, or 0.88 pct, at 12,574.79

* All of index’s 10 main sectors higher

* SNC-Lavalin up 5 pct after CEO resigns after payments probe

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 26 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose along with global equity markets on Monday and hit a three-week peak after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made comments that signaled the U.S. central bank will keep a supportive monetary policy stance.

Bernanke said the U.S. economy needs to grow more quickly to get unemployment down, leading investors to take on more risk on hopes the central bank could conduct another round of quantitative easing.

Gainers included financials, up 0.8 percent, as Royal Bank of Canada, Canada’s biggest bank, shot up 1.2 percent to C$58.67 and Bank of Nova Scotia, which also rose 1.2 percent at C$56.89.

“Bernanke told us they’re going to continue to have easy monetary policy so it’s all good for the risk trade,” said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities, in Vancouver.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index finished up 109.13 points, or 0.88 percent, at 12,574.79, with all of its 10 main sectors higher.

The index hit 12,583.12 earlier in the day, its strongest level since Mar. 5.

The blue-chip S&P/TSX 60 added 6.52 points, or 0.9 percent, at 717.71.

Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod, said the signal by the Fed helped investor confidence about the global economic outlook.

“They’re trying to shore up the economy. If they continue to do that, and, it seems to be working so far, obviously that means an increase hopefully in business activity,” said Ketchen.

“When the U.S. economy is burning on at least a few cylinders ... obviously it helps other economies around the world and hopefully we’ll all benefit from it.”

Toronto followed overseas stock markets higher, which got an early boost after data showed German business sentiment rose unexpectedly for the fifth month in a row in March. The upbeat reading suggested that Europe’s largest economy is more resilient than others tied to the euro-zone debt crisis.

Suncor Energy was up nearly 1 percent at C$33.12 with the price of oil higher as Bernanke’s comments reinforced the view that interest rates will be kept low.

Goldcorp Inc climbed 1.4 percent to C$45.24 and Teck Resources rose 2.1 percent to C$35.89 as metals prices gained.

In company news, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc soared 5.2 percent at C$41.31. The head of SNC-Lavalin, one of the world’s biggest engineering and construction companies, has stepped down after an internal investigation found he had acted unethically by authorizing tens of millions of dollars in mysterious payments.

Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, up 0.8 percent at C$54.13, said it agreed to buy Russian pharma company Natur Produkt International, JSC for about $180 million to tap into the over-the-counter market in the country.

Viterra, one of the most heavily-traded stocks on the market, remained in the spotlight. Canada’s farm minister highlighted on Monday the global marketing reach of Swiss-based Glencore in the latest sign from Ottawa that it has little appetite for blocking the company’s proposed takeover of the grain handler.

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