TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher on Tuesday after upbeat U.S. economic data and corporate results helped offset worries about increasing instability in Ukraine and a sharp decline in gold-mining shares.
Data showed a slightly greater-than-expected gain in U.S. consumer prices in March, driven by food and rental housing costs. Gains in shares of Coca-Cola Co KO.N and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N after their earnings reports brightened the overall mood.
The market brushed aside news that Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war as Kiev said an “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Moscow separatists was under way, with troops and armored personnel carriers seen near a flashpoint eastern town.
Investor sentiment appeared to be turning positive after global stock markets fell last week on concerns about overextended valuations and worries about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.
The Toronto stock market’s benchmark index advanced for a second straight session, after declining 1 percent last week. It is up about 5 percent this year.
“There is still some concern about high valuations in the market, but that’s being offset by strong earnings,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“The market has largely been supported by monetary policy and corporate earnings in North America,” he added. “The question is, where do we go from here?”
Picardo expects the TSX to outperform the S&P 500 .SPX this year.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 19.49 points, or 0.14 percent, at 14,303.92.
“The market is still reasonably priced,” said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. “I do think that the TSX is probably going to move on to new highs. The energy sector is really gathering momentum, and that could well drive the market.”
Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Tuesday.
Energy shares added 0.2 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO added 1.1 percent to C$43.77, though Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO shed 0.3 percent to C$39.37.
The financial sector, the index’s most heavily weighted group, was up 0.3 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO climbed 0.4 percent to C$64.63.
In related news, Scotiabank’s head of international banking said he sees Mexico as the bank’s most promising growth territory and is not deterred by a money-laundering scandal there involving Citigroup’s C.N Banamex unit.
Gold-mining shares reflected a selloff in the price of bullion. The sector was down 2.1 percent, with Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO losing 1.3 percent to C$20.37 and Goldcorp Inc G.TO declining 2 percent to C$26.
Editing by Peter Galloway and Leslie Adler