CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on ECB pledge; Barrick, Potash cap gains
* TSX up 48.11 pts, or 0.4 pct, at 11,540.62 * Energy shares lead gains * ECB comments boost commodities * Weak Barrick, Potash earnings weigh on materials By Jon Cook TORONTO, July 26 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks rose on Thursday, led by energy shares, as euro zone fears eased after the head of the European Central Bank vowed to protect the debt-plagued region from collapse. ECB President Mario Draghi, speaking in London, said the ECB was ready, within its mandate, "to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro." His comments bolstered investors' risk appetite, driving up global equities and the euro. The spurt of confidence in the outlook for the global economy, which has been shadowed by threats of contagion from the euro zone crisis, offset weak earnings from top miners Barrick Gold and Potash Corp. The euro hit a two-week high against the U.S. dollar after Draghi's pledge, driving a rally in dollar-denominated commodity markets. "The news out of Europe helped stabilize everything," said John Hughes, senior mining analyst at Desjardins Securities. Canada's powerhouse energy sector jumped 1 percent, as U.S. oil prices rose on the improved confidence in Europe and on a sharp drop in U.S. jobless claims, which fell to a near four-year low. Energy gains were led by top oil producer Suncor Energy , which rose 1.6 percent to C$31.40 after reporting a 28 percent jump in second-quarter profit earlier this week. The company on Wednesday also said it would scale back an ambitious growth program that had troubled some shareholders. Cenovus Energy climbed 1.3 percent to C$31.57, and Canadian Natural Resources rose 1.2 percent at C$27.81. Around 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 48.11 points, or 0.4 percent, at 11,540.62. NOT SO GOLDEN RESULTS The heavily weighted materials subindex, which includes miners, fell 0.5 percent on dismal earnings results from industry leaders Barrick and Potash. Shares of Barrick, the world's largest gold producer, plunged more than 8 percent to C$31.50 after the company reported a 35 percent decline in quarterly profit and warned that capital costs on one of its biggest growth projects would dwarf its previous forecast. The cost revision for Barrick's massive Pascua-Lama gold mine, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina, may shed some light on last month's sudden dismissal of Aaron Regent as chief executive. "The market is disappointed that the companies are not in more control of their costs," said Hughes. "That's evident today in the Pascua-Lama project for Barrick." Shares of Potash, the world's largest fertilizer maker, sank 2 percent to C$44.37 after the company reported a 38 percent drop in its second-quarter profit and forecast weaker-than-expected earnings for the latter half of 2012.
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