* TSX up 74.71 points, or 0.49 percent, at 15,274.97
* Eight of 10 main index sectors advance
* BMO slips after posting results
By John Tilak
TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index advanced on Tuesday as investors responded positively to comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy direction.
Yellen began testifying to U.S. lawmakers about plans for an eventual interest rate increase, saying the Fed was preparing to consider rate hikes “on a meeting by meeting basis.”
Bank of Montreal shares shed 1.7 percent after the lender posted a smaller-than-expected first-quarter profit, hurt by the impact of declining long-term interest rates on its insurance unit and lower investment and corporate banking revenues.
Overall Tuesday’s gain helped lift the benchmark index up nearly 4 percent so far this month.
“The tone is positive,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
“Yellen’s speech is the main feature, it’s dominating the news. Her language will be closely watched,” he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 74.71 points, or 0.49 percent, at 15,274.97. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
BMO’s decline pulled the financial sector lower. The stock was trading down at C$76.08, and Bank of Nova Scotia lost 0.7 percent to C$65.44.
Shares of energy producers climbed with oil prices. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advanced 1.3 percent to C$37.87, and Suncor Energy Inc added 0.3 percent to C$38.80. (Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)