TSX edges higher in seesaw session after Yellen speech

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher in a seesaw session on Friday, led by financial and industrial stocks as investors raised bets for U.S. interest rate hikes this year after a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

For the week, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 0.3 percent. Still, it has rallied 27 percent since hitting a three-year low in January.

Much of the fluctuation in the index on Friday was driven by comments from Fed officials, said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.

The index reached its highest for the day after Yellen failed to lay out a clear roadmap for what the Fed needs to see to raise interest rates in a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

But most of the gains were pared as Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer reinforced the message that the U.S. economy has strengthened.

The odds of a U.S. rate hike as soon as September climbed to 30 percent from 21 percent on Thursday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The most influential movers on the index included financial and industrial stocks.

Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO rose 0.9 percent to C$17.82, while Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO was up 0.2 percent at C$81.54.

Royal Bank of Canada was one of a number of Canadian banks that reported better-than-expected earnings this week.

Expectations for the banks had been set low, said Kinsey.

Still, he likes owning bank stocks for their yield, while he also favors pipeline companies.

The overall financials group firmed 0.2 percent, while industrials rose 0.5 percent, including gains for railroad stocks.

Energy stocks advanced 0.3 percent, helped by higher oil prices.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 31 cents higher at $47.64 a barrel, while Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO rose 0.6 percent to C$36.48.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 9.16 points, or 0.06 percent, at 14,639.88.

Five of the index’s 10 main groups ended higher.

Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd BB.TO said it would raise about $605 million by selling convertible debentures to shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd FFH.TO and other investors.

BlackBerry’s shares rose 0.6 percent to C$10.38.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.4 percent.

It included a 2.1 percent drop in the shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc POT.TO to C$20.86, while Agrium Inc AGU.TO fell 1.75 percent to C$115.78.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Alistair Bell