UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks get small lift from banks, BCE

Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:38pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index edged slightly higher on Thursday, lifted by gains in banks and telecom company BCE Inc, but sentiment was wary and the market was unable to find much traction.

The banks led the upside, adding 1.1 percent, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) rising 93 Canadian cents, or 2.1 percent, to C$45.93, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) up 78 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, at C$46.92.

BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote) also supported the benchmark, recovering from Wednesday's selloff to gain C$1.22, or 3.4 percent, to C$36.94 after U.S. radio operator Clear Channel Communications (CCU.N: Quote) said it won a temporary court ruling that prevents banks from backing out of their commitments to fund its $20 billion buyout.

After the bell, Canada's telecoms regulator approved the C$34.8 billion ($34.1 billion) buyout of BCE by an investors group, subject to a number of conditions.

BCE had fallen on Wednesday amid worries that its buyout could be on the rocks as some of the banks funding the deal are involved with the Clear Channel buyout, which is reported to be in jeopardy because of the credit crisis.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 13.92 points, or 0.1 percent, at 13,405.78 with half of its 10 main sectors on the downside.

It was the fifth day in a row that the index closed higher, but it seesawed through the day in tentative trade.   Continued...