CANADA STOCKS-TSX ekes out gain, pulled up by financials

Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:54pm EDT
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* Financials push TSX into positive territory

* Fed says speed of U.S. contraction slowing (Adds details and analyst comment)

TORONTO, April 15 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index finished slightly higher on Wednesday as financials made a late push and offset weak resource issues.

The financial group rose 1.1 percent, drawing support from the recent spate of better-than-expected earnings from key U.S. banks and as American Express surprised investors with data that suggested cardholders' ability to pay bills could be stabilizing.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) was the biggest mover to the upside on the overall index, rising 1.36 percent to C$41.13, while Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO: Quote) followed with a 4.4 percent advance to C$27.55.

Optimism was reinforced as the U.S. Federal Reserve said the economy continued to weaken but the speed of the contraction was slowing amid scattered signs the recession in the United States may be nearing an end. [ID:nWEQ000880]

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 14.49 points, or 0.16 percent, at 9,246.11, after spending most of the session in negative territory.

Nagging doubts about recovery from the recession spurred by some U.S. earnings reports, as well as a drop in the index's energy sector on concerns about dropping oil demand, had put the index in negative territory for much of the session.

"The market is continuing to display some resiliency to bad news. Earnings reports so far have been mixed, not disastrous like some people have been expecting. We continue to see buying coming in on the dips," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.   Continued...