CANADA STOCKS-TSX higher, lifted by CN Rail; banks weigh
(Adds portfolio manager comment, details; updates prices) By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged narrowly higher in early trade on Wednesday, with better-than-expected profits at Canadian National Railway Co offset by dips in heavyweight bank shares. CN's results, reported after the markets closed on Tuesday, added to a cheery outlook from its chief rival, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, earlier that day. "All the rail companies are doing very well, part of it is because of oil-by-rail ... there is also a huge backlog of grain," said David Baskin, portfolio manager and president of Baskin Financial Services. Shares in CN gained 1.2 percent to C$64.35, while CP was flat at C$172.60 after a sharp jump on Tuesday. Baskin said that stronger rail safety regulations announced on Wednesday would likely have only a marginal impact on the railways, who could largely pass extra costs onto their customers. "The rail companies in Canada are generally an indicator of what's going on, particularly in the commodity side of the economy," he said. Canada's biggest banks evened out the ledger, however, as China's economic data disappointed and a bump in domestic retail sales failed to make an impact. Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.2 percent to C$72.30, Bank of Montreal was off 0.5 percent at C$75.90, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also declined 0.5 percent, to C$95.80. Reuters reported on Tuesday that CIBC was exploring an offer for global asset manager Russell Investments, according to sources. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc also weighed, pulling back 1.5 percent to C$147.92. It had surged on Tuesday after making an unsolicited bid for the maker of Botox. By mid-morning, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.42 points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,572.39. Six of the index's 10 main industry groups were in positive territory. (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by G Crosse and Chizu Nomiyama)
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