CANADA STOCKS-TSX ticks higher as U.S. retail sales jump

Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:58pm EDT
 
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* TSX up 15.28 points, or 0.13 percent, at 11,853.61
    * Financial and energy stocks higher in mixed trade
    * Miners, RIM limit index upside
    * Index now at high-end of recent range; seen unlikely to
break

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Canada's benchmark stock index
edged higher on Tuesday, helped by financial and energy stocks
as a rise in U.S. retail sales was seen as possibly heralding
broader growth in Canada's largest trading partner.
    The rise kept the index near the top of the11,300-11,900
point range it has been trading in for several months, but fund
managers were divided on whether the index could break through
in August, a typically slower trading month.
    "It's difficult to see the TSX go above 12,000 in the next
several weeks, given the levels of uncertainty that are there,"
said Peter Chandler, a senior partner at Canaccord Wealth
Management in Waterloo, Ontario.
    He pointed to unresolved issues in the euro zone, lack of
clarity on a Chinese economic slowdown and the upcoming U.S.
presidential election as reasons for Canadian caution.
    Conversely, portfolio manager Barry Schwartz from Baskin
Financial Services said miners and oil and gas companies could
bounce higher to add to recent stocks gains in a string of
sectors including telecoms, utilities and consumer staples.
    "We're just waiting for the commodity complex to join the
party, and if it does you could easily see a 300-500 point move
on the TSX in a very rapid period of time," he said.
    The U.S. data bolstered the view that a slowdown in economic
growth during the second quarter will prove temporary in the
United States, which is by far Canada's biggest trading partner.
    U.S. retail sales rose for first time in four months in July
and were well above analysts' expectations. 
    "It's very positive. It puts the nail in the coffin of those
who were worried about a recession," Schwartz said.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 unofficially closed up 15.28 points, or 0.13 percent,
at 11,853.61. It has ended above 11,900 only once since early
May.    
    Six of the index's 10 main sectors pushed higher. Aa 2.1
percent rise in Royal Bank of Canada to C$51.98 helped
financials provide the biggest boost of any sector.
    Energy stocks also rose, led by a 1.7 percent jump in
Canadian Natural Resources Inc to C$30.66.
    But heavyweight mining companies muted the gains, with First
Quantum Minerals Ltd falling 5.1 percent to C$19.03 and
Teck Resources Ltd down 3.3 percent to $28.62. 
    Gold lost allure as the U.S. retail data pushed investors to
scale back bets that the Federal Reserve would move to stimulate
the economy.
    Research In Motion also weighed heavily, down 6.7
percent at C$7.48, after smartphone market data released by
Gartner showed the BlackBerry maker's competitive position had
eroded further.