CANADA STOCKS-TSX nears three-year high on BlackBerry, U.S. data

* TSX rises 56.79 points, or 0.40 percent, to 14,176.52
    * Nine of 10 main index sectors advance
    * BlackBerry jumps almost 4 percent after Facebook move
    * TransCanada slips 1.8 percent

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
on Thursday to its highest in nearly 3 years as positive U.S.
economic data boosted sentiment and Facebook Inc's 
planned acquisition of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp lifted
    The move by Facebook raised investor hopes that BlackBerry's
own messaging platform might have been undervalued. Shares of
the smartphone maker jumped nearly 4 percent. 
    In the United States, Canada's main export market,
manufacturing activity picked up its pace in February to record
its fastest growth in nearly four years and separate data
indicated that the number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits fell last week. 
    "We think the U.S. will lead global growth," said Andy Nasr,
managing director and senior portfolio manager at Middlefield
Capital, of the recent wave of economic data. "It does make
sense to stay closer to home. That's probably the message."
     The Toronto market, which is benefiting from increased
optimism for equities, climbed for a 12th straight session and
has gained about 4 percent this year. 
    "You're starting to see more money flow into the energy
sector and the materials sector," Nasr added. "That's creating a
bit of enthusiasm for Canadian stocks."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 56.79 points, or 0.40 percent, at 14,176.52.
Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added
0.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.7 percent to
C$72.86, and Toronto Dominion Bank gained 0.6 percent to
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, jumped
1.7 percent. Barrick Gold Corp shot up 3.6 percent to
C$22.70, and Goldcorp Inc gained 1.9 percent to C$30.06.
    In other corporate news, TransCanada Corp said it
is considering how to proceed with its Keystone XL pipeline, a
day after a court voided the Nebraska governor's decision to
allow the controversial line to pass through the Midwestern
state. The stock gave back 1.8 percent, to C$48.98.