CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises for 4th day, boosted by Potash

Tue Jan 5, 2010 5:20pm EST
 
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 * TSX ends up 0.18 percent at 11,888.08
 * Potash Corp raised to "outperform"; shares up 5.4 pct
 * All five big banks fall
 (Adds details)
 By Ka Yan Ng
 TORONTO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended
at a 15-month high on Tuesday, led by a rally in shares of
Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO after the big fertilizer
company was upgraded to "outperform" [ID:nSGE6040FR]
by Credit Suisse.
 Potash Corp was the leading heavyweight advancer all
through the session. It ended up 5.41 percent at C$123.00,
which helped the TSX index reach its highest level since
September 2008 and record its fourth straight higher close.
 Prices for precious metals and crude oil were higher,
boosting the index. While gold cut initial gains to turn lower,
the overall tone to the index's energy and materials groups was
solidly higher, and they rose 0.24 percent and 1.76 percent,
respectively.
 "There's follow-through buying from yesterday. The fact
that the U.S. dollar is lower seems to help," said Elvis
Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in
Vancouver.
 Other advancers were big-name resource-based companies,
including a 2.5 percent gain in shares of Teck Resources
TCKb.TO to C$40, and Suncor's SU.TO 1.1 percent rise to
C$38.73.
 Financials were the loss leaders. Analysts cited
profit-taking after the sector ran up sharply in December,
while disappointing U.S. home sales data chipped away at
sentiment about economic recovery.
 "It's a knee-jerk reaction to that (U.S. home sales) number
because any hint of weakness in the U.S. economy seems to spill
over here as far as financial stocks are concerned," Picardo
said.
 Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO was the biggest drag on the
index, falling 1.5 percent to C$55.75, followed by Bank of Nova
Scotia BNS.TO, which dropped 1.45 percent to C$48.22.
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE ended up 21.18 points, or 0.18 percent, at 11,888.08.
 It had turned briefly lower in the morning after the homes
data for November raised concerns. But the index bounced back
as data showed U.S. factory orders showed expansion for the
third consecutive month, while a big jump in vehicle sales at
Ford Motor Co F.N and other automakers provided more hints of
a recovery. [ID:nN0548808]  [ID:nN05237516]
 Analysts say the TSX is off to a solid start in the new
year but could be prone to a selloff after a stunning 31
percent rally in 2009, its best annual performance since 1979.
 "It's going to seesaw for a while and I wouldn't be too
surprised to see a selloff coming at some point in the next
month or two. It's just run up so much," said Steve Ibel,
institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax,
Nova Scotia.
 Ibel said some factors to watch this year are employment
growth in the United States as well as government stimulus
programs, which have helped the world economy gain a steadier
footing after the deep downturn.
 ($1=$1.04 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)