January 5, 2010 / 4:19 PM / 9 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX edges higher as materials rise, banks weigh

* TSX rises 0.26 pct to 11,898.18

* Potash Corp raised to “outperform”; shares up 5 pct

* All five big banks drag on index (Adds details)

TORONTO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was slightly higher in a seesaw session on Tuesday morning as weakness in heavyweight financial issues battled strength in the materials group, which rallied on a brokerage upgrade of Potash Corp POT.TO.

The resource-heavy market rushed higher in the opening minutes as commodity prices were higher and Credit Suisse raised Potash Corp of Saskatchewan to “outperform”. [ID:nSGE6040FR]

But profit-taking on financials, which ran up sharply in December, weighed on the market. Eight of the index’s 10 main groups were lower, except for the oil and materials groups.

Potash Corp remained the leading influential advancer, up 5.1 percent at C$122.64, which kept the TSX moderately higher at 15-month highs.

The five big banks were among the major drags on the index. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) was down 1 percent at C$48.43, while Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was off 0.5 percent at C$56.35.

At 10:55 a.m. (1555 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 31.28 points, or 0.26 percent, at 11,898.18. It had turned negative after some mixed U.S. economic data and as the price of oil came off highs.

“It’s going to seesaw for a while and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a selloff coming at some point in the next month or two. It’s just run up so much,” said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Ibel said some factors to watch this year are employment growth in the United States as well as government stimulus programs, which have helped the world economy gain a steadier footing after the deep downturn.

Mixed signs of economic recovery in the United States helped pushed the key Toronto index briefly lower earlier in the session. Data showed a steep drop in U.S. pending home sales for November, while factory orders showed expansion for the third consecutive month. [ID:nN0548802] [ID:nN04215160]

$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng

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