TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Tuesday as positive U.S. data indicated strength in the world's biggest economy and tensions over Ukraine eased slightly.
Speculation that the Chinese government may unveil stimulus measures meanwhile boosted the price of copper, which jumped 2 percent to hit a two-week high, and sent shares of diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO up more than 3 percent.
Data released on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer confidence touching a six-year high in March and house prices rising in January.
Investors also watched as Russia indicated a willingness to engage with the West, and U.S. President Barack Obama and his allies agreed to hold off on more damaging economic sanctions unless Moscow went beyond the seizure of Crimea.
The Toronto market firmed after dropping in the previous two sessions and has advanced about 5 percent this year.
"The market is fairly volatile on not a lot of volume or conviction," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management. "If the (Ukraine situation) escalates in Crimea, then the market will react very negatively."
Strength in the global economy and easy monetary policies by central banks could help the Canadian equity market this year, he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 20.94 points, or 0.15 percent, at 14,299.49. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose 0.2 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) advancing 0.4 percent to C$72.70.
Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) gained 0.4 percent, to C$73.79, after shareholders in UK fund manager F&C Asset Management voted in favor of a 708 million pounds ($1.17 billion) takeover bid by BMO.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, rose 0.9 percent. The group benefited from the jump in the price of copper, as well as gains in other commodities such as gold and silver.
Teck climbed to C$24.18, and Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) added 1.8 percent to C$106.62.
In corporate news, Toronto Stock Exchange operator TMX Group Ltd (X.TO) said it plans to launch a new business to allow capital raising and the trading of securities of privately owned entities. The stock added 1.1 percent to C$53.40.
Editing by Grant McCool and Meredith Mazzilli