CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2-1/2 week high on U.S. economic data
* TSX up 138.70 points, or 0.90 percent, at 15,477.17 * All of 10 main index sectors advance * Couche-Tard gains on move to buy Sinopec Sales stake * Imperial Metals drops on concerns over costs, project delay By John Tilak TORONTO, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index jumped to its highest in 2-1/2 weeks on Tuesday as positive U.S. economic data helped push up shares in every major sector. Data showed a rebound in U.S. housing starts in July, while a moderate increase in consumer prices suggested the Federal Reserve has room to keep interest rates low for a while. Investors also awaited the release of minutes from a recent Fed policy meeting to look for clues about when the central bank could raise interest rates. The Toronto equity market was up for a fourth straight session, taking its gains for the year to more than 13 percent. "I'm comfortable with the valuation levels. The market is pricing in some earnings growth," said Ben Jang, a portfolio manager who helps manage about C$2.5 billion in assets at Nicola Wealth Management. "In this stage of the cycle, we can have high multiples for a prolonged period of time. That's not abnormal," he added. Jang, who is bullish about the Canadian industrial sector, said he would stay clear of momentum names at this point and focus on value stocks instead. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 138.70 points, or 0.90 percent, at 15,477.17. All of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Financials, the index's most-heavily weighted sector, climbed 0.8 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada rising 1.5 percent to C$81.60 and Bank of Montreal gaining 1.1 percent to C$81.29. Shares of energy producers jumped 1.9 percent. Suncor Energy Inc added 1.3 percent to C$43.25, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advanced 2.1 percent to C$45.90. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc climbed 1.4 percent, to C$31.33, after sources told Reuters that the retailer was among suitors short-listed to buy a $16 billion minority stake in China's Sinopec Sales, the world's largest fuel retail network. Shares of miner Imperial Metals Corp slid 6.2 percent due to worries about delays at its Red Chris copper project in British Columbia and concerns about higher capital costs. (Editing by Dan Grebler and Meredith Mazzilli)
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