TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Wednesday as gains in the energy and financial sectors offset a selloff in shares of grocers Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO) and Metro Inc (MRU.TO) spurred by lackluster earnings reports.
Investors also speculated about the outlook for the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus program, with the market looking ahead to Thursday, when Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is expected to be nominated at a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing to replace Ben Bernanke at the helm of the central bank.
"People are looking at how long it will take for the Fed to change its taper policy," said Subodh Kumar, the chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates.
"Markets will be range-bound here," he added. "Markets are moving back and forth depending on how much clarity there is (on the Fed policy)."
Kumar, who expects the benchmark Canadian index to climbed to 13,500 by the end of the year, sees more volatility in the near term.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 44.62 points, or 0.33 percent, at 13,370.66.
Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Energy shares climbed 0.9 percent as oil prices rose. <O/R> Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) jumped 2 percent to C$37.23, and Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO advanced 0.2 percent to C$12.59.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added 0.7 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) rising 1.7 percent to C$71.06 and Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) climbing 0.4 percent to C$96.69.
But the consumer staples group gave back 2.7 percent.
Loblaw shed 7.6 percent to C$44.23 after it reported a 29 percent drop in quarterly profit, hurt by a later Thanksgiving holiday and a decline in sales at its drugstores.
Metro lost 5.7 percent to C$62 after reporting a larger-than-expected 40 percent drop in quarterly profit as expanding U.S. retailers provided "intense competition" in its home market.
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli