CANADA STOCKS-TSX again heads higher as financials rally

Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:00am EDT
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 * TSX gains 0.12 percent to 11,568.96
 * Extends five-session advance
 * Financials lead gains, commodities mixed
 (Adds details)
 TORONTO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
firmed on Thursday morning after initial volatility, adding to
gains from the last five sessions on a growing taste for
riskier assets.
 The financials group was a major influence on the broader
market, rising 0.58 percent, with Manulife Financial MFC.TO
leading the way with a 2.1 percent climb to C$22.10.
 Investors heard executives speaking at a financial services
conference on Wednesday that Canada's biggest banks were
weighing options for using their excess capital, with
acquisition opportunities, dividend increases and share
buybacks under consideration. [ID:nN16136744] The conference
continued on Thursday, with insurers in the spotlight.
 "The market has got some momentum," said Peter Chandler,
senior vice-president at Canaccord Capital in Waterloo,
 "The other thing too is that there's lot of money on the
sidelines still, and fixed income markets and interest rates
are pretty benign and low. That means that's not acting as
competition for the markets.
 He said attractive sectors are infrastructure and the
energy and materials complex as a whole.
 At 10:40 a.m. (1440 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE was up 13.36 points, or 0.12 percent, at 11,568.96.
Half of the index's 10 main groups were higher, including the
hefty materials sector, which rose 0.04 percent largely on
fertilizer stocks.
 Potash Corp POT.TO rose 2.8 percent to C$103.16, while
Agrium AGU.TO gained 2.6 percent to C$57.13.
 Investors were also monitoring key commodity prices. Oil
prices approached $73 a barrel, while gold hit 18-month highs
for a second consecutive session, but then eased.
 Big stocks such as EnCana ECA.TO and Goldcorp G.TO came
under pressure, each falling more than 0.5 percent.
 The markets were also supported by data on the U.S. labor
and housing markets, which reinforced the outlook that the
economic recovery was gaining momentum.
 Inflation data in Canada had little impact. It showed
prices fell by 0.8 percent in August compared with a year
earlier, the second-largest 12-month drop in over 50 years.
($1=$1.07 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)