CANADA STOCKS-TSX higher, lifted by CN Rail; banks weigh

(Adds portfolio manager comment, details; updates prices)
    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
edged narrowly higher in early trade on Wednesday, with
better-than-expected profits at Canadian National Railway Co
 offset by dips in heavyweight bank shares.
    CN's results, reported after the markets closed on Tuesday,
added to a cheery outlook from its chief rival, Canadian Pacific
Railway Ltd, earlier that day. 
    "All the rail companies are doing very well, part of it is
because of oil-by-rail ... there is also a huge backlog of
grain," said David Baskin, portfolio manager and president of
Baskin Financial Services.
    Shares in CN gained 1.2 percent to C$64.35, while CP was
flat at C$172.60 after a sharp jump on Tuesday.
    Baskin said that stronger rail safety regulations announced
on Wednesday would likely have only a marginal impact on the
railways, who could largely pass extra costs onto their
    "The rail companies in Canada are generally an indicator of
what's going on, particularly in the commodity side of the
economy," he said.
    Canada's biggest banks evened out the ledger, however, as
China's economic data disappointed and a bump in domestic retail
sales failed to make an impact.
    Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.2 percent to C$72.30,
Bank of Montreal was off 0.5 percent at C$75.90, and
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also declined 0.5
percent, to C$95.80.
    Reuters reported on Tuesday that CIBC was exploring an offer
for global asset manager Russell Investments, according to
    Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc also
weighed, pulling back 1.5 percent to C$147.92. It had surged on
Tuesday after making an unsolicited bid for the maker of Botox.
    By mid-morning, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX
composite index was up 16.42 points, or 0.11 percent,
at 14,572.39. Six of the index's 10 main industry groups were in
positive territory.

 (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by G Crosse and
Chizu Nomiyama)