TSX edges higher, TransCanada leads the way

Wed Jan 9, 2013 5:40pm EST
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By Solarina Ho and John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed moderately higher on Wednesday, aided by a rise in TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO: Quote) after the company announced a C$6.5 billion pipeline deal, but gains were tempered by caution over the outlook for global economic growth.

TransCanada shares rose 2.4 percent to C$48.39 after the country's largest pipeline operator revealed plans to build C$6.5 billion worth of natural gas pipelines for Progress Energy Canada, a unit of Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, in British Columbia.

The market, however, stayed anxious over the fallout from last month's fiscal crisis in the United States and ahead of policy meetings of European central banks.

Investors are keeping a close eye on whether the U.S. fiscal-cliff scare affected fourth-quarter earnings and corporate forecasts, said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.

"This is the first indication we are going to get from many of the bellwether companies about how they see 2013 shaping up," he said.

Alcoa Inc (AA.N: Quote), the largest aluminum producer in the United States, said on Tuesday it expects demand for the metal to grow in 2013, helped in part by strong sales to aerospace and construction customers.

"It's Alcoa's earnings yesterday that's setting the mood," said Serge Pepin, vice president of investment strategy at BMO Asset Management Canada. "If the earnings season can show itself as relatively positive or better than expected, the mood can really solidify on that."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE climbed 17.43 points, or 0.14 percent, to 12,522.24. Seven of the index's main groups rose.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch