CANADA STOCKS-Manulife deal helps TSX rise, but oil shares drop

Wed Apr 8, 2015 11:10am EDT
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* TSX up 44.68 points, or 0.29 percent, at 15,233.52

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index extended a rally into a fifth session on Wednesday as Manulife Financial Corp led major financial stocks higher after signing an Asian distribution deal, while consumer names also rose.

The gains were limited by a retreat among oil and gas producers as the price of crude fell back.

Manulife shares gained 1.6 percent to C$21.89 after the Canadian insurer signed a deal to pay $1.2 billion to Singapore's DBS Group Holdings for a 15-year partnership to sell products through DBS's Asian branch network.

"The Manulife-DBS deal today adds a little bit to the growth prospects for them," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

He added that the outlook for an interest-rate hike at some point was positive for insurers, which have struggled for years in a low-rate environment. "The fundamental tailwinds are at the insurers' backs," he said.

Sun Life Financial Inc also gained, up 1 percent at C$39.80, while some of the index's big banks contributed to the overall rise, with Royal Bank of Canada up 0.4 percent at C$78.15.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 44.68 points, or 0.29 percent, at 15,233.52 in morning trade.   Continued...