CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on gas prices, strong data

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:16pm EST
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 * TSX up 0.75 percent at 11,464.57
 * 8 of index's 10 subgroups rise, energy leads the way
 (Adds details, comments)
 By Cameron French
 TORONTO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
pushed higher on Thursday, helped by strong U.S. and Canadian
trade data as well as a sharp rise in natural gas prices, which
drove up oil and gas producers.
 Gas futures jumped 8 percent on the New York Mercantile
Exchange, spurred by cold weather forecasts and reports of
shrinking inventories. [ID:nN10213740]
 In Toronto, Suncor Energy SU.TO rose 3.3 percent to
C$36.80, while Talisman Energy TLM.TO gained 2.9 percent to
C$18.02. The index's energy sector ended the session up 1.79
 The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed 85.35 points,
or 0.75 percent, higher at 11,464.57. Eight of its 10 subgroups
rose on the day.
 For the second straight day, the index rose sharply in the
final hours of trading, which is a sign that cautious investors
are gaining confidence at current levels, said Elvis Picardo,
analyst at Global Securities in Vancouver.
 "It does seem that optimism is getting the upper hand here
because you're seeing the market able to hold on to the gains
as we go into the close," he said.
 That confidence was helped by data showing that Canada
unexpectedly returned to a trade surplus in October after three
months of deficits [ID:nN10154628], and that the U.S. trade
deficit shrank 7.6 percent in the month as a weak U.S. dollar
boosted exports. [ID:nN10156007].
 The index hit a 14-month high last week, but has come well
off that level since then despite Thursday's gains.
 Analysts say some of that weakness could be due to tax-loss
selling -- divesting losing stocks to count the loss against
capital gains taxes -- but suggested the market could flatten
out as market players book off early for year-end holidays.
 "Liquidity sort of dries up in the marketplace as we go
into the later part of December," said Paul Harris, portfolio
manager at Avenue Investment Management.
 "It's going to cause a damper on the marketplace and any
kind of big swing will not happen."
 Besides energy, other sectors rising a percent or more were
consumer discretionary, up 1.1 percent, utilities, which rose 1
percent, and industrials, which also gained 1 percent.
 Among consumer discretionary issues, Gildan Activewear
GIL.TO surged 10.9 percent to C$23.34 after the T-shirt maker
said it will consider spending its mounting pile of cash on a
share buyback, a dividend, or acquisitions.
 The TSX materials sector, meanwhile, slid 0.25 percent, led
lower by gold-mining issues as the precious metal rose slightly
but continued to trade well off the record highs it hit a week
 New Gold NGD.TO slid 3.9 percent to C$3.47, while
industry bigwig Barrick Gold ABX.TO retreated 1 percent to
 ($1=$1.05 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway)