UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks get small lift from financials

Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:24pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index finished a little higher on Thursday, as financials got a boost from mild inflation data, while investors took profits following a steep advance in the previous session.

The financial sector added 0.8 percent, after data showed the inflation rate in March was at its lowest level since July 2005, allowing the Bank of Canada room to further cut interest rates.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote) rose 75 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, to C$68.56, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) pushed up 58 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$63.82.

"The market's up a little, largely on financials, and I think that's really in response to greater confidence that the Bank of Canada has room to cut rates next week," said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

"People were a bit worried there might be higher inflation and that that would make the Bank of Canada reluctant to cut rates."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 16.02 points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,115.50 with half its 10 main sectors higher.

But gains were hampered by a retreat in the materials sector, including Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote), which fell C$1.62, or 0.8 percent, to C$196.88 after its recent spectacular run-up.   Continued...