TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index touched a 10-1/2 month high on Tuesday, led by Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) and Goldcorp Inc (G.TO), which rose on news that their joint-venture Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic had achieved commercial production.
Stronger-than-expected December retail sales data out of the United States also contributed to the market’s sixth straight session of gains. The stronger retail figures were seen as a favorable signal of fourth-quarter growth.
“Today, the positive was the retail numbers out of the U.S. looked pretty good. That sort of carried the market up once they came out,” said Brian Pow, vice president, research, and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners in Calgary.
Barrick rose 1.07 percent to C$34.03 after the miner said it had achieved commercial production at Pueblo Viejo. [ID:nL2N0AK5U0] The mine, one of the largest new gold projects in the world, is a joint venture with Goldcorp, which rose 1.18 percent to C$36.86.
The materials group, which includes miners and makes up nearly 20 percent of the index, gained 0.56 percent. Gold prices were up 0.7 percent.
Fellow gold miner Kinross Gold Inc (K.TO) added 2.91 percent to finish at C$9.56 and was among the top five heavyweight gainers. <GOL/>.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 38.88 points, or 0.31 percent, to 12,641.97, its highest close since March 2, 2012. All but two index sectors ended in positive territory.
“Generally, it’s a pretty positive mood today,” said Pow, adding that the trend would likely be sustainable over the near term.
“You’re constantly going to get yanked back and forth just by whatever piece of news comes out. That’s just how the market’s behaving right now. It’s very emotional,” he said.
The positive tone was tempered by Monday’s news that U.S. President Barack Obama would reject any negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. borrowing limit. [ID:nL2N0AJ39U] That temporarily pulled the Toronto market off highs spurred by the U.S. budget deal at the start the month that averted the “fiscal cliff” of massive tax hikes and spending cuts.
“The debt ceiling debate is likely to be even more heated. As a result, markets are skittish on the prospect of that,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Ultimately some resolution, some deal will be struck to avoid U.S. defaults. But it’s not going to come without theatrics in the meantime,” he added. “From now until late February, we are likely to get more volatility in the markets.”
The heavily weighted financial sector, which make up nearly a third of the index, recouped earlier losses to finish up 0.17 percent.
The technology group was down 1.05 percent, pressured by a 2.93 percent retreat in Research In Motion RIM.TO shares. RIM closed at C$14.27 after investor optimism over the upcoming launch of the BlackBerry 10 had pushed the stock up nearly 29 percent over the three previous sessions.
Additional reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Peter Galloway