February 11, 2010 / 7:52 PM / 9 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX gains steam on EU pledge to aid Greece

* TSX up 83.56 points, or 0.74 percent, at 11,369.89

* Greece rescue plan helps lift investor confidence

* Manulife, Sun Life fall after disappointing results (Adds details, quotes)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index climbed on Thursday as a financial rescue plan for Greece helped lift market confidence and commodity prices.

Topping the list of big gainers were Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), up 2.4 percent to C$38.80, and Teck Resources TCKb.TO, which edged 5.6 percent higher to C$37.52. Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO was up 2.8 percent at C$115.54.

A pledge by European leaders to provide financial aid to Greece helped to boost prices of oil and metals [O/R] [GOL/] [MET/L], and the Canadian dollar was also comfortably higher against the U.S. dollar on increased investor risk tolerance. [ID:nLDE61A0W2] [CAD/]

“You’re getting some form of backstop for Greece. That was the key thing that everyone is looking at,” said John Johnston, chief strategist for Harbour Group at RBC Dominion Securities.

Johnston noted there was some underlying disappointment, given the lack of details, but the European Union essentially pledged to provide support for Greece if needed.

“The markets are by and large comfortable that Greece is not going to be allowed to default,” he said.

At 2:22 p.m. (1922 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 83.56 points, or 0.74 percent, at 11,369.89.

The index had been held back earlier in the day by weaker than expected quarterly results from two of Canada’s big life insurers.

Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), down 4.6 percent at C$18.61, and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO), which slid 4.2 percent to C$30.04, topped downside movers.

Both companies notched sharply higher quarterly profits on Thursday on stock market gains and stronger sales, but both missed market expectations. [ID:nN11240504]

“I think it’s shoot first and ask questions later,” Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services, said of the market reaction to the results.

“To me this is the final kitchen sink. It’s let’s see if there are any more writedowns, let’s clean it up ... and make sure we’re in good shape for 2010. On an earnings basis, the insurers look very cheap,” he added.

Elsewhere, Canadian Tire Corp (CTC.TO) dropped 6.2 percent to C$51.75 after it said on Thursday its quarterly earnings fell and warned that additional costs could bite into future results. [ID:nN11231073]

$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson

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