TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday as comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin helped ease worries that the Ukraine crisis could escalate further.
Putin said Russians need to mobilize for the benefit of their country but not for conflict with the outside world. Equity markets, in Europe especially, have retreated recently on fears of increased tension between the West and Moscow over Ukraine.
The Toronto market also rose on Thursday despite data showing that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week.
The Toronto market's benchmark index has gained about 12 percent this year, though trading has been choppy in the past couple of weeks due to the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East.
“The economic recovery is fair, it is slow,” said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management. “It’s like a lumbering airplane coming off the runway. It’s not a fighter jet.”
“Most people would like (the recovery) to be a little faster, but the reality is that it's going to plod along."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed 28.45 points, or 0.19 percent, higher at 15,291.18. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained 0.7 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) rising 0.7 percent to C$80.14 and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) adding 0.7 percent to C$56.90.
The consumer staples group was up 1 percent. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc (ATDb.TO) advanced 1.4 percent to C$30.10.
A rise in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO), which climbed 1.5 percent to C$120.95, helped boost the healthcare sector. The stock was one the most influential gainers on the index.
Editing by Peter Galloway