September 13, 2013 / 9:17 PM / 6 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX ekes out gain on Potash Corp jump; drops on week

* TSX rises 22.35 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,723.40
    * Six of the 10 main index sectors close higher
    * Index fell 0.76 percent on the week

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
closed slightly higher on Friday, helped by a sharp jump in
shares of fertilizer producer Potash Corp, but the gain
was limited by a fall in heavily-weighted banks after data
showed Canadians are more indebted than ever.
    Potash Corp jumped 2.3 percent to C$33.57 after reports
surfaced that tycoon Suleiman Kerimov would sell his major stake
in Russian potash producer Uralkali to investor Vladimir Kogan.
    The Potash Corp gain reflected optimism that a change in
Uralkali's ownership might lead to it rejoining fellow potash
producer Belaruskali in an export partnership, which would
support prices for the crop nutrient. 
    "When you have reports like this flying around, people tend
to focus on the underlying fundamentals, which are that demand
for potash is not going to go away in a hurry," said Elvis
Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global
Securities in Vancouver. "At some point, the stock has to be a
screaming buy."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 ended the session up 22.35 points, or 0.18 percent, at
12,723.40. It fell 0.76 percent on the week.
    Financial stocks were the biggest weight on the day as
Statistics Canada said the ratio of household debt to income in
Canada hit a record high in the second quarter. 
    "If the Canadian consumer is strapped because of a huge debt
load, then that has implications for the broad Canadian economy,
and the banks are, of course, the biggest players here," Picardo
    Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.7 percent to C$65.30,
Toronto-Dominion Bank lost 0.4 percent to C$89.92, and
Bank of Nova Scotia was down 0.2 percent at C$59.30.
    Oil and gas producers also helped the index rise, but Gareth
Watson, vice president Of investment management and research at
Richardson GMP, said their recent gains could be capped if it
becomes clear that the United States will not make a military
strike on Syria, which would pull down oil prices.
    The energy sub-index was up 0.25 percent, led by a
0.6 percent gain for Canadian Natural Resources to
C$32.78, and Suncor Energy's 0.3 percent rise to
    Watson said the index has performed well in recent months.
    "I'm sure people would much rather where we are right now as
opposed to the end of June, when we were down close to 12,000."
    Telecom stocks also helped the index rise, with Telus Corp
 up 0.8 percent at C$33.42 and Rogers Communications Inc
 gaining 0.8 percent to C$43.28. The stocks fell the
previous day after a report that three foreign telecom companies
had studied entering the Canadian market.
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