CANADA STOCKS-TSX closes up, puts in best year since 1979

Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:08pm EST
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 * TSX ends up 0.24 percent at 11,746.11
 * For the year, index finishes up 30.69 percent
 * Information technology the No. 1 index group in '09
 * Financials No. 2, energy No. 3, materials No. 4
 (Adds details, official closing numbers, quotes)
 By John McCrank
 TORONTO, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose
on Thursday as strength in financials outweighed weakness in
mining and energy stocks and helped the index put in its best
year since 1979.
 Bank shares were among the top index winners, helped by
U.S. economic data that showed a surprise drop in weekly U.S.
jobless claims. [ID:nN31170026]
 Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) was the biggest gainer of the
day. It rose 0.9 percent to C$65.96. Royal Bank of Canada
(RY.TO: Quote) was up 0.5 percent at C$56.40, and Bank of Montreal
(BMO.TO: Quote) gained 1 percent to C$55.85.
 It was the fourth consecutive daily gain for financials.
 "It's the old story that Canada is not as affected by the
shenanigans in the States," said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at
Brant Securities. "And where else are you going to get that
kind of yield and potential for growth?"
 Energy shares started the day higher, but fell as investors
took profits and the price of natural gas declined after U.S.
data showed a much smaller-than-expected drawdown from winter
inventories. [nN31159245]
 Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) was the biggest loser on the index,
down 0.9 percent at C$37.21, while EnCana (ECA.TO: Quote) shed 0.4
percent to C$34.11.
 Another piece of U.S. data may have also played into the
weakness in energy stocks and in a downturn in the index's
materials sector as well, Masionis said.
 The December reading of the Institute for Supply
Management-Chicago index, also known as the PMI or purchasing
managers' index, was revised to show that Midwest business
growth was less robust than thought. [nN3199834]
 "The big thing in the States was the PMI being updated," he
said. "They did a correction on it from what they said
yesterday, and that put a little kink into the markets."
 Teck Resources TCKb.TO fell 2.5 percent to 36.82 and
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) dropped 0.6 percent to C$41.46.
 The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session up
28.65 points, or 0.24 percent, at 11,746.11.
 For the year, the index rose 30.69 percent, rebounding from
one of its worst years ever in 2008.
 The year's best performing TSX sector was the information
technology group, which is dominated by BlackBerry maker
Research In Motion RIM.TO. The sector rose 53.5 percent after
losing about half its value the year before. It was followed by
financial services, up 38.5 percent; energy, up 37.3 percent;
and materials, up 33.4 percent. Those three sectors make up
about three-quarters of the weighting of the entire index.
 The telecoms sector, which is widely regarded by investors
as a safe haven in times of turmoil, was the worst performer in
the bull market, up just 0.1 percent for the year.
 Following such a strong year, 2010 is not likely to be as
kind to investors, said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and
strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
 "This is going to be a very hard act to follow and pretty
much all of the easy gains have been made," he said.
 "I think investors are going to turn more discerning and
more sort of rational next year. We may see a modestly up year,
but I think it's going to be challenging."
 Canadian markets will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1.
 ($1=$1.05 Canadian)
 (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway)