TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished broadly higher on Friday, with energy companies leading the gains, as encouraging North American economic data bolstered investor sentiment.
Energy stocks, which make up about 25 percent of the index were up 1.07 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) was the most positive stock on the TSX, adding 2.06 percent to C$30.15. Encana Corp (ECA.TO) was also a key gainer, rising 2.75 percent to C$20.16.
North American stock markets rose after U.S. reports showed employers there kept up a steady pace of hiring workers, even though the unemployment rate crept up, and the vast services sector expanded at a brisk rate.
“It shows that perhaps we’ve got stability in the U.S. labor market. It’s not great, but it continues to show improvement and that again bodes well for prospects through 2013,” said Philip Petursson, a managing director at Manulife Asset Management’s portfolio advisory group.
Canada’s economy defied expectations to create 39,800 jobs in December, surpassing even the most bullish prediction in a Reuters poll.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished 70.37 points higher, or up 0.56 percent at 12,540.81. All 10 of the TSX’s main groups ended in positive territory and the index as a whole was up about 1.8 percent for the week.
“I still think there’s a lot of people away. You’re probably not going to get a good feel of the market until next week,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
The heavyweight financial group climbed 0.5 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) gaining 0.51 percent to C$61.07.
The overall materials group recouped early losses and finished the session up 0.52 percent. Potash Corp’s (POT.TO) led mining gains with a 1.33 percent rise to C$41.03.
In corporate news, Lululemon Athletica LLL.TO shares fell 4.55 percent to C$70.88 after an influential analyst cut his rating on the popular yoga wear retailer’s stock, citing rising competition and heavy discounting.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO) said it was aiming to double or quadruple its revenue, but left its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings guidance unchanged. Shares fell 1.61 percent to C$59.40 and was the second most negative influence on the TSX.
Editing by Diane Craft