CANADA STOCKS-Banks lift TSX on Cyprus calm; index up for quarter

Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:58pm EDT
 
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* TSX rises 50.25 points, or 0.40 percent, to 12,749.90
    * Index up 2.5 percent in first quarter
    * Eight of 10 main sectors advance
    * BlackBerry shares rise 2 percent after results

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 28 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
powered ahead in a late surge on Thursday, led by strength in
financial and industrial shares, on relief that banks in Cyprus
reopened relatively smoothly following a bailout deal.
    The market received further support from BlackBerry 
after the smartphone maker reported a surprise quarterly profit.
 
    But the market's gains were kept in check by declines in
gold stocks that weakened with the bullion price as tension over
Cyprus lifted.
    In a sign of stability, Cypriots queued calmly at banks as
they reopened under tight controls imposed on transactions to
prevent a run on deposits after the government was forced to
accept a stringent EU rescue package to avert bankruptcy.
 
    The banking crisis in the island has weighed on investors
the past week, and some worry that it is an indication of
shortcomings of the banking systems in the broader euro zone, or
even the rest of the world. 
    "The bears would like to say there's this contagion effect,"
said Diana Avigdor, portfolio manager and head of trading at
Barometer Capital Management. "The contagion effect is more
important for European banks, not so much for U.S. and Canadian
banks." 
    "People are still skittish, but money is coming into
equities," she said.
    The Canadian benchmark index recorded a 2.5 percent gain in
the first quarter, compared with a 10 percent jump in the S&P
500.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 50.25 points, or 0.40 percent, at 12,749.90.
Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Investors also tracked data that showed a rise in U.S.
jobless claims, though not enough to suggest the labor market
recovery was at risk. However, the U.S. economy grew moderately
in the fourth quarter.
    "It's a mixed picture. We are in a period of stagnation"
said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
    Financials, the index's weightiest sector, added 0.5
percent, with Royal Bank of Canada rising 0.8 percent to
C$61.20.
    The industrials group gained 1.6 percent
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, was down
0.5 percent, with the price of gold declining. Kinross Gold Corp
 fell 0.9 percent to C$8.04, and Goldcorp Inc fell
0.3 percent to C$34.18.
    Shares of BlackBerry climbed nearly 2 percent to C$15.09 and
helped the information technology sector rise 1.4 percent.
    Avigdor said the stock has a place in investment portfolios.
   
    "The expectations are so low that it has the potential to
beat them," she said.