TSX ends at near 19-month high as banks shine

Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:26pm EDT
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By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO (Reuters) - Banks powered Toronto's main stock index to close at its highest level in nearly 19 months on Wednesday, encouraged by forecast-beating results from U.S. bank JP Morgan, while upbeat U.S. economic data and firmer commodity prices played supporting roles in the rise.

The index's financial group led the charge, up 2.03 percent, with all five big banks scoring gains of 2 percent or more as investors anticipated results similar to JPMorgan's at other U.S. banks, a good omen for Canadian bank results.

Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, shot up 2.99 percent to C$61.31, and Toronto-Dominion Bank added 2.71 percent to C$76.64.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce gained 2.38 percent to C$74.74, while Bank of Montreal rose 2.64 percent C$63. Bank of Nova Scotia was up 2 percent.

Sentiment was further lifted by stronger March retail sales in the United States and by better than expected results from tech heavyweight Intel from Tuesday's closing bell.

"It's a spillover from JP Morgan and the U.S. They seem to be driving some of our stocks today. More good news is coming from the commodities side in the energy and the gold," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 102.89 points, or 0.85 percent, at 12,204.41, not far from its session high at 12,211.57. It was the highest closing level since late September 2008 shortly after the index began a deep decline after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Seven of the index's 10 main sectors were higher, including the energy and materials groups, which rose as the price of oil turned higher after U.S. government oil inventory data unexpectedly showed a drawdown. Gold prices also rose.   Continued...

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto in this November 9, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>