CANADA STOCKS-TSX extends week-long rally as oils gain
* TSX up 13.26 points, or 0.09 pct at 14,149.41
* Six of the 10 main groups higher
* Index near 2-1/2 year intraday highs (Updates with details, comment)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index nudged modestly higher on Friday, extending a week-long rally as strength in energy stocks offset weakness among financial issues.
Six of the index's 10 main groups were higher, with energy issues up 0.47 percent. Most stocks were up only modestly, however. Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) led among the gainers, but advanced just 0.45 percent to C$44.68.
U.S. crude futures rose as investors looked to cover short positions and ahead of the U.S. Presidents Day holiday on Monday, while tensions in the Middle East remained in focus. [O/R]
At 10:39 a.m. (15:39) GMT, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 13.26 points, or 0.09 percent at 14,149.41. The index was near 2-1/2 year intraday highs, after surging past the 14,000 mark earlier in the week.
Offsetting the energy gains was a 0.18 percent decline among the hefty financial stocks, following six straight sessions of gains that saw the group advance 3 percent.
Sun Life Financial SLF.TO was down 0.58 percent at C$32.83 while National Bank of Canada NA.TO was off 0.48 percent at C$74.64.
Tame Canadian inflation data and China's decision to hike banks reserve requirements provided little direction ahead of the long weekend.
The TSX will be closed on Monday for Ontario's Family Day holiday, while four other province, including Alberta, are also observing a holiday on Monday.
Canada's annual inflation rate slipped to 2.3 percent in January, bucking a global trend that has seen other countries working to keep rising prices under control. [ID:nN18254283]
"It's still pretty benign," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.
"There's two things going on there: The food situation is causing inflation to go up, but the labor markets are still under pressure, so that kind of puts a cap on wages. One part is going up and the other isn't," Kinsey said.
Overseas, China raised required bank reserves to a record 19.5 percent, in the latest move by the huge consumer of commodities like oil and metals to curb inflation. [ID:nTOE71H068]
"It usually has a bit of a knee-jerk reaction initially and then people seem to shrug it off," said Kinsey.
"It's kind of a funny thing, the reason that they do it is because the economy is doing well. And, of course, if the economy is doing well they need more commodities. So it goes around in a circle."
The influential materials group, which make up just under a quarter of the index's weigh and is home to mining firms, was up 0.17 percent. Stocks within the group were mixed, however, with diversified miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO leading decliners, sliding 1.29 percent to C$55.15.
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Rob Wilson)
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