CANADA STOCKS-TSX climbs after Putin comments; focus on Fed

Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:58am EDT
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* TSX rises 57.46 points, or 0.40 percent, to 14,289.35
    * Nine of 10 main index sectors advance
    * CN Rail, CP Rail are market's most influential gainers

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
on Tuesday after comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin
helped calm the market's fears about tensions in the region and
investors eyed a Federal Reserve policy meeting for monetary
policy direction.
    But a decline in gold-mining shares, which rallied in recent
weeks with the price of bullion as concerns about Ukraine
escalated, limited the broader market's gains. 
    Investors were also looking for signs of where the Fed's
stimulus program might be headed as the central bank began a
two-day policy meeting.
    Putin signed a treaty to make Crimea part of Russia but said
he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine.
    "Russia is obviously the main focus. Whether or not Crimea
was just the first step in Russia moving further into Ukraine
was the (market's) biggest worry," said Allan Small, a senior
investment advisor at HollisWealth. 
    "In a strange way, the markets have rallied even though
sanctions are coming," he added. "Even though it's not the best
situation, the market is saying that it could've been worse."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 57.46 points, or 0.40 percent, at 14,289.35.
    Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added
0.4 percent. Manulife Financial Corp climbed 1.1
percent to C$21.06, and Bank of Nova Scotia rose 0.6
percent to C$64.83.
    Industrial shares jumped 1 percent, helped by gains in the
country's two biggest rail operators. 
    Canadian National Railway Co advanced 1.3 percent
to C$63.45, and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd gained 2
percent to C$174.50. The two stocks had the biggest positive
influence on the market.
    Shares of gold producers gave back 1.4 percent, reflecting a
similar fall in the price of bullion. Barrick Gold Corp 
dropped 2.2 percent to C$22.12.
    "Gold is down because the fear factor from Russia dropped a
notch," Small said.