CANADA STOCKS-Banks lead broad TSX gains ahead of Fed decision
* TSX up 54.57 points, or 0.41 percent, at 13,426.41 * Several banks have hit record highs recently By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was higher in a broad rally led by banks on Tuesday as the U.S. Federal Reserve was set to begin a two-day policy meeting that was widely expected to conclude with it leaving its monetary stimulus program intact. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index has gained almost 6 percent in the past three weeks and is at its highest level in more than two years. Given that the resource-rich Canadian index has lagged U.S. stock indexes in recent years, investors seemed confident that it can keep rising as the corporate earnings season hits high gear. It was up 54.57 points, or 0.41 percent, at 13,426.41 at midmorning on Tuesday. "Generally speaking, the tone remains in a more upbeat phase going into the earnings period," said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director of institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets. "The assumptions should still be viewed constructively." Expectations that the Fed will continue to apply stimulus to the U.S. economy combined with signs of renewed strength in Canada's housing sector have pushed several bank stocks to record highs in recent weeks. Toronto-Dominion Bank gained 0.8 percent to C$94.93, Bank of Nova Scotia was up 0.6 percent at C$63.23, and Royal Bank of Canada, the country's largest lender, added 0.3 percent to C$69.82. Talisman Energy Inc gained 3.1 percent to C$13.30 after activist investor Carl Icahn said he had increased his stake in the oil producer. Thomson Reuters Corp was up 2.6 percent after reporting net sales in its financial business turned positive and that it planned to cut 3,000 jobs.
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