CANADA STOCKS-Resources push TSX higher, weekly gain in sight

Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:23am EDT
 
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* TSX rises 35.86 points, or 0.28 percent, to 12,664.71
    * Seven of the 10 main index sectors advance
    * Index looks headed for weekly gain
    * Canadian Natural has biggest positive impact on market

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, July 19 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
climbed for a third straight session on Friday as higher prices
for oil, gold and other commodities buoyed shares of resource
companies and lifted market sentiment.
    The Toronto index neared the six-week high it hit the
previous session and looked on track to post a weekly gain,
which would be its fourth in a row.
    Investors cheered reassurances from Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben Bernanke earlier in the week that the U.S. central bank's
plans to scale back monetary stimulus will be flexible.
    The strength in commodities helped the benchmark Canadian
index do better on Friday than U.S. stocks, which were in the
red.
    "Oil is the single biggest story," said John Stephenson,
senior vice president at First Asset Investment Management. "It
explains the outperformance of Canada versus the United States."
     Stephenson said he expects the diminishing spread between
the price of Western Canada Select and the West Texas
Intermediate crude oil benchmark, as well as a recent rally in
oil prices to drive energy stocks.
    "There's tremendous potential for further gains since you
have several factors working in its favor," he said.
     The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 35.86 points, or 0.28 percent, at 12,664.71.
Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Shares of energy producers were up 0.7 percent, tracking
higher oil prices. In the group, Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd advanced 1.4 percent to C$34.41 and had
the biggest positive influence on the index. Suncor Energy Inc
 gained 0.8 percent to C$32.80.
    The index's materials sector, which includes mining stocks,
rose 1 percent, benefiting from a 2 percent surge in gold
producers.
    Gold rose 1 percent, due to a decline in the dollar, with
Bernanke's comments this week providing support.   
Barrick Gold Corp rose 2.3 percent.
    "Materials is the most attractive area going forward, but
it's still too early (to get in)," Stephenson said.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained
0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest
lender, added 0.3 percent to C$64.94, and Bank of Montreal
 rose 0.7 percent to C$64.83.
    The Canadian earnings season unofficially kicks off next
week. Analysts expect companies to post small overall gains in
second-quarter profit, as strength in the energy and insurance
sectors is offset by struggling miners.