TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks hit a one-week high on Friday, led by financial and energy shares, as positive economic data from China, Europe and the United States offset weak domestic numbers and as Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) rose on reaction to its results.
China’s exports and imports surged in January, the country’s first hard data of the year showed, pointing to robust domestic demand and a pick-up in the economy.
That more than offset news that Canada’s economy unexpectedly shed 21,900 jobs in January, delivering a reality check after months of outsized employment growth, and confirming forecasts of slowing economic expansion.
“I think the next couple of weeks now you’ll see the Canadian market react to the specific earnings, more so than the overall economic picture,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, noting volumes were very light on Friday because of the snowstorm hitting Canada and the U.S. Northeast.
Manulife, which reported a return to quarterly profit on Thursday, was one of the most influential stocks in leading the market higher. The insurer extended the modest gain it made on Thursday after several analysts raised their price targets for the stock. Manulife shares were up 2 percent at C$14.84.
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rose 0.7 percent to C$83.43.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 45.31 points, or 0.36 percent, at 12,801.23, after touching 12,823.50, its highest point since January 30. The TSX ended the week up 0.3 percent.
The index was not riding as high as its counterparts on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq at a 12-year closing high and the S&P 500 index at a five-year peak. .N
“We’re seeing the market vote on the side of the global data today,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. “The global growth story, while certainly not firing on all cylinders, appears to be improving at the margin.”
Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. The financial sector, the index’s largest, gained 0.6 percent.
Energy shares climbed 0.5 percent as oil prices rose following the Chinese data. <O/R> Nexen Inc NXY.TO was up 1.4 percent at C$26.97.
Chinese exports grew 25 percent in January from a year earlier and imports surged 28.8 percent, with the resulting $29.2 billion trade surplus topping a market expectation of $22 billion.
Energy prices were also supported by news that Germany’s trade surplus hit its second-highest level in more than 60 years in 2012, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe’s biggest economy. <O/R>
Also giving some confidence to the market, rising exports and less imported oil helped push the U.S. trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December.
In other individual company news, Potash Corp POT.TO climbed 1.4 percent to C$42.57 after Canpotex Ltd, the offshore selling agency for leading North American potash miners, signed a new potash supply contract with Indian buyers at a smaller than expected discount.
BlackBerry (BB.TO) was down 2.4 percent to C$16.51 after the company said on Thursday it has no immediate plans to offer its BlackBerry 10 line in Japan, suggesting that it sees little chance of Japan emerging as a major market for its new devices at this time.
Additional reporting by John Tilak