TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index advanced on Wednesday as shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc VRX.TO jumped and positive U.S. jobs data fueled gains in several major sectors.
The gains were offset a little by a decline in shares of Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO) after a CN train carrying crude oil and propane derailed and caught fire in New Brunswick on Tuesday night, according to federal safety officials.
Investors digested a bullish U.S. private jobs report, ahead of nonfarm payrolls data set for release on Friday.
Figures from payrolls processor ADP on Wednesday showed U.S. private employers added a more jobs than expected in December, posting the strongest increase in 13 months.
“Those numbers continue to be in the sweet spot, and that’s exactly what investors need to keep the rally going,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
But investors don’t want too robust a report on Friday, he added. “If those numbers blow past estimates, that’s going to cause real concern about how quickly the Fed will taper.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s path to unwind its monetary stimulus program has stayed on top of investors’ radar screens, and on Wednesday minutes from a recent policy meeting showed Fed officials looking to approach the process very cautiously.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s benchmark index traded in positive territory for a second straight day after declining in the first three sessions of 2014. The market recorded a 9.6 percent gain in 2013.
“The expectation is that the global economy will gradually pick up over the course of the year, and that is a positive for the TSX,” Picardo said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 17.70 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,614.63. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Valeant advanced for a second straight day, rising 2.7 percent, after the drugmaker said on Tuesday it plans to become one of the world’s top five pharmaceutical companies by market capitalization by the end of 2016 and also released a bullish forecast for 2014.
Valeant’s jump, to C$138.64, helped push the healthcare sector up 1.5 percent.
But gold-mining shares dropped 1 percent, pulled lower by a declining bullion price. Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) was down 1.5 percent at C$19.37, and Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) gave back 1 percent to C$23.87.
CN Rail slipped 1.6 percent to C$58.63.
Editing by Peter Galloway and Jonathan Oatis