CANADA STOCKS-TSX higher as banks and resource stocks lead; earnings lift

Thu Mar 5, 2015 11:34am EST
 
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock exchange rose broadly on Thursday, led by healthy gains among bank shares and forecast-beating results from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd , the country's No. 2 oil and gas producer.

The TSX moved in tandem with global stocks, which were supported by the European Central Bank's latest effort to boost the struggling eurozone economy.

"The main driver is one, no surprises out of Europe," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.

"We're getting indications of what's going in the first quarter, and I think people are a little more comfortable," he added. "The banks are moving a little bit and certain stocks are picking up on either decent earnings, share buybacks or dividend increases."

The heavily weighted financial stocks were the most influential, gaining 0.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada led the rise, with a 0.8 percent gain to C$77.72. Toronto-Dominion Bank rose just over 1 percent to C$54.71.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index rose 70.92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,153.76. Eight of the index's top 10 sectors climbed higher, with consumer discretionary and healthcare categories the lone decliners.

Energy stocks were up modestly, helped in large part by Canadian Natural's 4.5 percent jump to C$38.42 after the company reported earnings of 69 Canadian cents per share, higher than the 67 Canadian cents analysts had expected. Crude prices were also up moderately.

The company, which slashed its 2015 capital budget by 28 percent and postponed a heavy oil project in January due to low crude prices, also announced salary cuts for management as well as other budget-trimming measures.

The materials group, home to mining stocks and other resource companies, rose 1.2 percent, while the price of gold climbed on the ECB news.

Goldcorp Inc, the world's biggest gold producer by market value, was up 2.7 percent at C$26.14. Barrick Gold Corp climbed 2.7 percent to C$15.50. (Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)