CANADA STOCKS-U.S., Europe data lift TSX, but focus glued on Fed

Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:59pm EST
 
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* TSX rises 58.71 points, or 0.45 percent, to 13,184.41
    * Seven of the 10 main index sectors advance
    * Valeant up 4 percent after making takeover move

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
on Monday as investors cheered bullish economic data from Europe
and the United States, but  focus stayed fixed on what the U.S.
Federal Reserve would decide to do about its bond-buying program
at its policy meeting this week.
    Data released on Monday showed that euro zone businesses
ended the year on a high, helped by a jump in new orders, and 
U.S. manufacturing output rose for a fourth straight month in
November. 
    A preliminary private survey meanwhile indicated a slowdown
in growth in China's factory sector in December as reduced
output offset a pickup in new orders. 
    But it was the future of Fed policy that grabbed market
attention yet again, with investors speculating on when the U.S.
central bank would begin to scale back its stimulus measures.
    Fed officials will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
Most recent U.S. economic data has appeared strong enough to
spur the Fed to start reducing its massive stimulative
bond-buying program.
    "The last thing you want is for the Fed to throw a spanner
in the works," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president
of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "But it is very
unlikely to upset the apple cart."
    "The expectation is for the Fed to hold the line as far as
the rates are concerned," he added. "But we might get some
significant news on the quantitative easing program in terms of
a timetable to commence winding it down."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 58.71 points, or 0.45 percent, at 13,184.41.
    "(The economic data) confirms the thesis that most of the
economic zones in the world are going to post decent growth next
year," Picardo said. "The TSX is seen as a proxy for global
growth, and that bodes well for the index."
    Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Shares of banks and insurers climbed 0.7 percent. Royal Bank of
Canada, the country's biggest lender, was up 1.1 percent
to C$69. Manulife Financial Corp advanced 0.4 percent
to C$19.73.
    The materials and industrial groups also made gains.
    Despite support from higher oil prices, shares of energy
producers lost 0.2 percent. In the group, Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd slipped 1.1 percent to C$33.96.
    Investors digested news that Barrick Gold Corp was
laying off roughly 1,500 of about 5,000 workers on the Argentine
side of its suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine project. The stock
added 1.6 percent to C$18.05. 
    In other corporate news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals
International said it plans to buy Solta Medical Inc
 for about $236 million in cash. Valeant stock jumped
nearly 4 percent to C$117.52, and had the biggest positive
influence on the index.