July 22, 2016 / 11:32 AM / a year ago

TSX at highest close in year, 4th weekly gain; telecoms shine

A TMX Group sign, the company that runs the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), is seen in Toronto, June 23, 2014.Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index hit its highest close in a year on Friday, notching a fourth straight weekly gain as yield-producing telecom and utility stocks found favor, offsetting a plunge in shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO).

Valeant fell 6.2 percent to C$30.03 after U.S. regulators raised concerns about a new eye drop the company manufactures.

Telecoms climbed 1.3 percent, with Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) extending post-earnings gains with a 2.1 percent advance to C$56.81.

Its rivals, which have not yet reported second-quarter numbers, also gained, with Telus Corp (T.TO) adding 1.6 percent to C$43.96 and BCE Inc (BCE.TO) up 0.6 percent to C$63.15.

The utilities sector rose 0.7 percent.

Both sectors feature many stocks that pay dividends, making them attractive to investors searching for yield.

"Even though the index is up, it seems like there is some defensive positioning going on," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at StennerZohny Investment Partners+ in Vancouver. "We're taking a more protective stance to hang onto gains," he added.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE settled up 34.83 points, or 0.24 percent, at 14,600.66. That was its highest close since July 17, 2015.

Eight of the index's 10 main groups finished in positive territory, with four advancers per three decliners.

Celestica Inc (CLS.TO), a contract electronics manufacturer, jumped 8.5 percent to C$14.28 after reporting earnings after the bell on Thursday.

Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO) rose 3.1 percent to C$15.89 as after Canada's No. 3 integrated oil company rushed to clean up an oil spill after earlier in the day reporting a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on lower production costs.

The overall energy group rose 0.6 percent despite a fall in crude oil prices CLc1 LCOc1 as glut fears grow.

Thursday saw the kickoff of oil and gas earnings season with Encana Corp (ECA.TO) and Precision Drilling Corp PD.TO planning to boost activity.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by James Dalgleish

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