5 Min Read
* TSX ends up 111.93 points at 13,300.87
* All 10 index sectors higher, led by financials
* Index ends week 3 percent higher
* TSX down 5.8 pct on quarter, 3.6 pct on month (Adds details, comments, technical levels)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, June 30 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rallied for a fourth straight day on Thursday as relief that Greece seemed likely to avoid a near-term debt default and some stronger North American data prompted quarter-end buying.
Financials, the most weighty index sector, led the gains, climbing 1.2 percent. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) bounced up 3.8 percent to C$17.08, Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) added 1.9 percent to C$61.35, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) advanced 1.2 percent to C$81.78.
"The two drivers for bank stocks today are diminished concerns about a debt default by Greece -- an issue that affects the financial sector more than any other sector -- and the fact that Canadian GDP was flat versus expectations for a slight decline," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
The Greek parliament approved detailed austerity and privatization bills on Thursday in a vote that was crucial to the government's attempt to secure emergency funds and avert imminent bankruptcy, but longer-term dangers still lurk. [ID:nL6E7HU0X3]
On the data front, Canadian economic growth figures showed a flat reading in April, which was slightly higher than the consensus forecast, while U.S. business activity in the Midwest expanded more than expected this month. [ID:nN1E75T0ER] [ID:nN1E75T07]
End-of-quarter flows were also seen in play. Much of the recent rally has been attributed to window-dressing by fund managers, who sell losers and buy winners to make their portfolios look better.
"When you're rejuggling your portfolio, once you've sold a whole bunch of things earlier on, some people might have cash on the balance sheet. If you want to buy something quick, just get it done on the day, that's banks," said Marcus Xu, director of equity investments at Genus Capital in Vancouver.
Insurer Manulife, in particular -- the day's most influential gainer -- was seen benefiting from last-minute bids as the recently hard-hit stock received a major upgrade in the quarter and may be seen as a "reversal buy," Xu said.
He added that the week-long rally may also be attributed partly to comments made late last week by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who said he expects price pressures to decline steadily even as China's economy grows briskly.
"The major worries for the global market are actually going down a little bit and people are feeling more comfortable buying risky assets," Xu said, noting that the TSX could have a summer turnaround as it did last year.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 111.93 points, or 0.85 percent, at 13,300.87, with all 10 of its sectors stronger.
Xu said the technical picture shows resistance for the TSX around the 13,500 mark as the index inches back towards its 200-day moving average.
It ended the holiday-shortened week up 3 percent, but finished the month 3.6 percent lower, and the quarter down 5.8 percent.
Over the quarter, energy shares, down almost 12 percent, led the decliners. Telecoms, which have risen nearly 8 percent in the last three months, showed the strongestt performance.
Canadian markets are closed on Friday for Canada Day, while U.S. markets will be shut on Monday for Independence Day.
Among Thursday's winners, energy stocks rose 1.1 percent as U.S. crude oil futures settled above $95 a barrel.
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained 1.1 percent to C$40.43, while Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) jumped 2.7 percent to C$36.40.
TMX Group (X.TO) shares were down 0.9 percent at C$43.80 a day after the London and Toronto stock exchanges canceled plans to combine forces. That pushed a consortium of Canadian banks and pension funds into the driver's seat in the takeover battle for the Toronto Stock Exchange. [ID:nN1E75T1KY]
Shares of Sino-Forest TRE.TO surged nearly 20 percent to C$3.20 even though Standard & Poor's cut its rating on the beleaguered Chinese forestry company. [ID:nN1E75T0AH]
SNC-Lavalin Group (SNC.TO) rose 4.1 percent to C$58.88 after the Canadian government said on Wednesday would sell the nuclear reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd to the engineering company for C$15 million plus royalties. [ID:nN1E75S1Z4]
($1=$0.96 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway)