CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends at near 19-month high as banks shine

Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:26pm EDT
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* TSX ends at 0.85 percent at 12,204.41

* All Big Five banks rise 2 percent or more

* Goldman Sachs downgrades Potash Corp, stock drops 4 pct (Updates with details)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, April 14 (Reuters) - Banks powered Toronto's main stock index to close at its highest level in nearly 19 months on Wednesday, encouraged by forecast-beating results from U.S. bank JP Morgan (JPM.N: Quote), while upbeat U.S. economic data and firmer commodity prices played supporting roles in the rise.

The index's financial group led the charge, up 2.03 percent, with all five big banks scoring gains of 2 percent or more as investors anticipated results similar to JPMorgan's at other U.S. banks, a good omen for Canadian bank results.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote), the country's biggest lender, shot up 2.99 percent to C$61.31, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) added 2.71 percent to C$76.64.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote) gained 2.38 percent to C$74.74, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) rose 2.64 percent C$63. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) was up 2 percent.

Sentiment was further lifted by stronger March retail sales in the United States and by better than expected results from tech heavyweight Intel (INTC.O: Quote) from Tuesday's closing bell. [ID:nN14374789] [ID:nN1382801].   Continued...