March 4, 2014 / 9:59 PM / 6 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX nears three-year high on Ukraine relief, Enbridge

* TSX rises 77.12 points, or 0.54 percent, to 14,289.86
    * Nine of the 10 main index sectors advance
    * Enbridge jumps on plan to replace key pipeline
    * Scotiabank edges up after reporting results

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
climbed to its highest in almost three years on Tuesday as
comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin helped mitigate
concerns of an imminent military conflict in Ukraine and fueled
gains in most of the index's major sectors.
    Offering further support, shares of Enbridge Inc 
jumped after the pipeline company said it will nearly double
capacity on a major crude export line to the United States
through a C$7 billion ($6.3 billion) replacement program.
    Although Putin defended Russia's actions in Crimea, global
markets took comfort from his statement that military force
would be the last resort in Russia's dealings with Ukraine.
    With the easing of tensions, oil and bullion prices dropped
after gaining in the previous session as investors withdrew some
safe-haven positions. Volatility, seen through the lens of the
S&P/TSX VIX index, also fell sharply.
    "We're seeing a little bit of relief with the toning down of
the actions in Ukraine, at least for the moment," said Michael
Sprung, president of Sprung Investment Management. "But that's
going to continue to overhang the market for some time."
    Sprung sees a choppy ride ahead for Toronto stocks, whose
benchmark index is up about 4.9 percent so far in 2014.
    "Overall, there could be further gains this year, but we
could see a few setbacks in the interim," he said. "We're
hopeful that the United States continues to recover and that
Canada's economy will be dragged along with it."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 77.12 points, or 0.54 percent, at 14,289.86,
after touching its highest level since early 2011 earlier in the
day. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose
0.4 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank advanced 0.3 percent
to C$50.06, and Bank of Nova Scotia added 0.1 percent
to C$63.12.
    Scotiabank reported a 6 percent rise in quarterly profit on
the back of recent acquisitions and higher lending volumes, and
it increased its quarterly dividend. 
    The lender's results rounded out Canadian banks' quarterly
earnings season, which showed the industry had been able to
sustain profits despite concerns about high levels of consumer
    "The banks have done surprisingly well," Sprung said. "The
credit conditions have held up better than expected. The banks
have been pretty good at controlling costs, and they benefited
from higher trading volumes over the last quarter."
    Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc 
rose 2.1 percent to C$162.20, and were a major factor in the
index's advance.
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