January 31, 2012 / 1:22 PM / 6 years ago

TSX edges higher to notch 4 percent monthly gain

TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX ended a hair higher in cautious trade on Tuesday, adding to a January rally that brought it 4 percent higher on the month.

<p>People walk by a Bay Street sign inside the financial district in Toronto October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

Stocks leading the way included Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO), up 1 percent at C$76.25, and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO), which rose nearly 2 percent at C$47.78 after reporting a sharply higher quarterly profit on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a pretty nice rally,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, referring to the index’s performance in January.

“I‘m actually quite encouraged about what’s going on because you’d think there’d be some profit-taking coming in here. I’ll take treading water in this environment anytime.”

Trading was subdued in a market undermined by some bleaker U.S. and Canadian economic data and gripped by caution over which way the euro zone debt crisis would turn.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 15.73 points, or 0.13 percent, at 12,452.15. Eight of its 10 main sectors ended higher, with the mining-heavy materials group off 0.05 percent, and consumer discretionary shares down by 0.09 percent.

The index finished up 4.2 percent for the month.

Sid Mokhtari, market technician and a director of institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets, said technical levels were at play in keeping the index higher.

“When the 50 (day moving average) crosses above the 100-day moving average, historically you show persistent behavior in that direction,” he said. “Because the 50 is crossing through the 100, I think it’s reasonable to say you’re altering the direction of what was a strong downward trend is now becoming flat to higher.”

Early in the day the index rose on optimism that Europe would be able to resolve its financial woes, but that cheer fizzled as little progress materialized.

A contraction in Canadian gross domestic product figures for November as well as a steeper-than-expected decline in U.S. home prices in November and a souring in U.S. consumer confidence in January weighed further on the market.

Toronto’s blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 0.18 points higher, or 0.03 percent, at 709.18.

Editing by Rob Wilson and Peter Galloway

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