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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock market index finished higher for a sixth straight session on Wednesday as rosy U.S. economic data and retreating worries about European debt lifted bank shares.
Shares of Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest financial institution, were up 1.38 percent at C$56.47, leading the index's gainers.
Most of the heavyweight advancers were from the financials group, including Manulife, up 1.88 percent at C$19.50, while Bank of Montreal gained 1.76 percent to C$55.60.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished up 49.12 points, or 0.42 percent, at 11,635.49, its highest close in a month.
Seven of the index's 10 main groups rose, led by the financials group, up 1.24 percent.
Also helping the index higher was a rekindling of risk appetite on North American stock markets after it had taken a hit recently due to concerns about the swollen debt of Greece and other euro zone countries.
"A lot of the panic that we saw late last month and at the beginning of this month seems to have receded and the focus is turning once again to corporate earnings and economic growth," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
Data on Wednesday showed U.S. housing starts hit their highest level in six months, while U.S. Federal Reserve data showed industrial output rose a solid 0.9 percent in January, suggesting an economic recovery was taking a firm hold as the year began.
Stronger-than-expected earnings from Canadian and U.S. companies, including Deere & Co and WestJet helped to boost sentiment as well.
But investors punished Rogers Communications after the company returned to profit but posted disappointing wireless subscriber gains. Rogers led all heavyweight decliners, falling 4.58 percent to C$32.94.
The energy group lost early gains, finishing the day down 0.04 percent as the price of oil slipped but stayed above $77 a barrel. Suncor fell 0.29 percent to C$31.46.
Gold-mining shares followed the price of the precious metal lower, unable to benefit from stronger than expected results from Iamgold. Barrick Gold bucked the trend with a 1.6 percent gain to C$39.65.
Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway