August 15, 2012 / 7:27 PM / 5 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX holds small gains, supported by banks

3 Min Read

* TSX up 52.35 points, or 0.44 percent, at 11,905.96

* Banks and energy companies lead rise

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index crept above 11,900 points on Wednesday afternoon, as financial and energy stocks gained, but investors took little comfort given the absence of major impetus from the United States or China.

Heavyweight financial stocks were the biggest advancers, but traders said overall volume was thin.

"There is so much uncertainty out there," said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities who noted some defensive movement towards dividend-paying stocks such as telecom company Telus.

"America is getting over the proverbial wall of worry. Canadians are always more timid," he said.

Mixed U.S. data kept investors guessing about further central bank action to stimulate growth.

"The economic stuff coming out of the States, that may have an effect, but we are in the summer doldrums and there is not a lot going on," said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, who added that in the absence of unexpected news, Canadian equities were unlikely to make dramatic moves in either direction through August.

U.S. consumer prices were surprisingly flat in July for a second straight month, giving the Federal Reserve room for further monetary easing.

Moves to kickstart growth in the U.S. economy are closely watched in Canada, which conducts the majority of its trade with its southern neighbor.

But indications on monetary policy moves aren't likely until later this month at the earliest, when U.S. central bankers meet for an annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the resource-focused index also looks to China for signs that the giant Asian economy's appetite for building materials, oil and other commodities remains strong.

China's economy faces big headwinds though cooling inflation is giving the government more leeway to maneuver monetary policy, Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted by state media as saying on Wednesday.

But this didn't seem to surprise investors.

"The numbers have been saying that for several months now," Kinsey said.

By 3:01 p.m EDT (1901 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 52.35 points, or 0.44 percent, at 11,905.96.

The index has been unable to muster a move of more than 0.7 percent in either direction over the past six sessions.

Banks helped with the rise, with Toronto Dominion Bank adding 0.9 percent to C$80 and Royal Bank of Canada also gaining 0.9 percent to C$52.44.

Fertilizer companies Potash Corp and Agrium Inc also gained with a rise in grain prices.

Gold miners were among the heaviest decliners on the key index, despite the price of bullion rebounding on hopes for another round of gold-friendly U.S. monetary easing. Goldcorp Inc slipped 0.5 percent to C$36.18 and Iamgold Corp was off 1.1 percent at C$11.21.

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