June 19, 2012 / 1:35 PM / 5 years ago

TSX hits 5-week high on Fed, Greece hopes

People walk by a Bay Street sign inside the financial district in Toronto October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks hit a five-week high on Tuesday, as financial and energy shares rallied on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will extend stimulus measures and as fears about Greece exiting the euro zone receded.

Markets rallied as the Federal Open Market Committee opened a two-day meeting on interest rate policy, with expectations high that the U.S. central bank may extend its “Operation Twist” program by a few months from its planned end later in June.

Greek parties promised on Tuesday to form a coalition government soon that will seek concessions from the country’s European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders on its punishing austerity program, and the euro zone signaled it was ready to renegotiate the bailout deal.

“You combine all of that with a market that is ridiculously oversold and you’ve got an opportunity for a pretty substantial bounce,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

All of Canada’s 10 main subgroups were higher, with the financial sector leading the way, rising 2.3 percent.

Gains were led by top lenders Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), up nearly 4 percent at C$52.91, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), which rose 2 percent to C$80.13, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), which climbed 3 percent to C$53.13.

The heavily weighted oil and gas group also jumped 2 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was up 3.1 percent at C$30.16, Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) rose 4.4 percent to C$33.66, and Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) bounced 2.4 percent to C$40.10.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 187.23 points, or 1.6 percent, at 11,788.36. It climbed to 11,801.94, its highest level since May 10.

Adding to the gains was a good showing by Canada’s top fertilizer producers, which rose as corn futures hit a one-month high on Tuesday as the hot and dry weather in the U.S. Midwest threatened crop prospects for the summer.

Potash Corp (POT.TO) was up 4.7 percent at C$41.79 and Agrium (AGU.TO) climbed 3.1 percent to C$88.65.

Despite the allure of more stimulus, Canadian gold stocks fell 0.7 percent on Tuesday. Losses were led by top gold producers Goldcorp Inc (G.TO), which slid 1.2 percent to C$40.18, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), down 0.4 percent at C$41.02.

Gains in riskier asset markets were limited by concerns about Spain’s debt yields, which hovered above the 7-percent level that has forced other euro countries to seek bailouts.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to lend these guys any money,” said Barry Schwartz, portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services. “We’re all going to suffer if Europe enters into a worse recession and no one wants to see that.”

However, relief was not imminent, as European leaders rejected pressure to deliver quick new measures to fight their debt crisis at a summit of world leaders in Mexico.

Those worries were compounded by a survey released on Tuesday that showed German analyst and investor sentiment dropped in June at its fastest rate since October 1998, indicating the euro zone’s strongest economy may be vulnerable to the effects of the region’s debt crisis.

Hutcheon said the broad selloff in Canadian resource stocks that has happened since May could easily turn into an extended summer rally should conditions stabilize in Europe and we get better data from the United States and China.

“This market could easily be up 1,000 points just on a bounce,” he said. “If it wants to change direction and start an uptrend, we’re heading back to 14,000 by year-end.”

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Editing by M.D. Golan

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