UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks higher, Agrium leads the way

Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:09am EST
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(Updates with details, analyst comments)

TORONTO Feb 13 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pushed higher on Wednesday morning, helped by strong earnings from fertilizer-producer Agrium (AGU.TO: Quote) and better than expected U.S. retail sales last month.

Research In Motion RIM.TO also gave the TSX a boost, rising 2 percent two days after it had a major BlackBerry outage, which it blamed on a routine upgrade to a data-routing system.

The retail sales, closely watched for clues on the state of the U.S. economy, rose 0.3 percent in January, ahead of analysts' forecasts of a 0.2 percent decline. For details, see: [nN13334844]

The United States is Canada's biggest trading partner and the TSX, which has climbed in three of the previous four sessions, is usually sensitive to U.S. economic data.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 60.45 points, or 0.5 percent, at 13,147.83 with seven of its 10 main groups in positive territory.

Agrium jumped C$2.07 to C$65.20 after the world's third-largest fertilizer producer swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, beating its own expectations and those of analysts. For details, see: [nN13248601]

The wider materials sector was up 0.2 percent, but most of the gains were found in the heavyweight energy sector, which rose 1 percent despite lower crude oil and flat natural gas futures.

The information technology sector rose 2 percent with RIM up C$1.80 at C$93.44.   Continued...