CANADA STOCKS-Bank earnings outlook helps bolster TSX
* TSX up 43.82 points, or 0.34 percent, 12,945.81
* Eight of the 10 main sectors higher
* Banks climb on earnings, dividend expectations
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index finished higher on Thursday as expectations for a healthy bank earnings season, starting next week, buoyed financial issues.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) was among the biggest gainers, advancing 0.6 percent, to C$55.29. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) rose 0.67 percent to C$75.31. All of the major banks were higher, lifting the influential financial group 0.58 percent.
"There is speculation that maybe one or two of (the banks) might even announce a dividend increase. That probably is what is spurring that sector," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 43.82 points, or 0.34 percent, to 12,945.81.
"The market is reacting a little bit to some firmness in plans in Europe, but clearly we're looking for direction tomorrow," said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management Inc.
With Wall Street closed for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, trading was quiet.
Eight of the 10 main sectors advanced. Consumer staples was down 0.2 percent while healthcare issues fell 0.31 percent.
The energy sector rose 0.3 percent in tandem with oil prices, which edged higher on the back of a softer U.S. dollar. [O/R] Suncor Energy SU.TO was up 0.47 percent at C$34.55 while Nexen Inc NXY.TO gained 1 percent to C$21.44.
Gold prices were mostly unchanged, leaving gold miners without solid direction. [GOL/] Barrick Gold's (ABX.TO: Quote) 1.07 percent rise to C$52.11 helped lift the materials sector 0.14 percent. Tempering the gains was a 0.24 percent drop by Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), which finished at C$46.20.
Overseas, Ireland's government expressed confidence it would be able to pass the toughest budget in the country's history despite an expected by-election defeat. Dublin's efforts to cut the worst deficit in Europe will form the basis of an 85 billion euro bailout from the IMF and the EU.
But ongoing concerns over whether other euro zone members such as Portugal could manage their debt continued to weigh. Earlier this year, Greece received a 110 billion euro bailout. [ID:nLDE6AO1Y5] [ID:nLDE6AO0N8]
"It's a broad issue ... the concern is that an isolated situation in Greece is becoming something more pervasive," said Taylor. "I'm just surprised the clouds were not darker."
In individual issues, Tim Hortons THI.TO, which said it was refinancing $100 million of maturing debt, was the lead decliner, sliding 1.43 percent to C$40.54. It has been trading at all time highs in recent sessions. [ID:nN25280805]
($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Editing by Rob Wilson)
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