CANADA STOCKS-TSX higher as Bernanke comments offset homes data

Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:19am EST
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* TSX up 0.37 percent at 11,569.81

* Bernanke says rates to stay low for long time

* U.S. home sales tumble to record low in January (Adds details)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index held higher on Wednesday as investors weighed comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke against softer U.S. home prices.

Prices of key commodities oil and gold recovered early losses as the U.S. dollar weakened after Bernanke's said economic conditions would warrant continued low U.S. interest rates, helping to lift the resource-laden index. [ID:nN23153536]

But U.S. home prices, which unexpectedly fell to a record low in January, took the wind out of the market's sails, and briefly pushed the TSX into negative territory. [ID:nN24373288]

Top advancers included Research In Motion RIM.TO, up 2.5 percent at C$74.03, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) rose 0.7 percent to C$71.70. Cameco (CCO.TO: Quote) rose 1.5 percent to C$30.10.

"The market is more than anything hung up on what's going to happen with interest rates and what that does to the economy, what that does to the fragile consumer," said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Wealth Management.   Continued...