February 13, 2008 / 2:18 PM / 11 years ago

Toronto stocks set to rise on Agrium, retail data

TORONTO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was set to rise on Wednesday, bouncing back from the previous session with the help of results from Agrium Inc AGU.TO and better-than-expected U.S. retail sales.

The retail sales, closely watched for clues on the state of the U.S. economy, rose 0.3 percent in January, ahead of analysts’ forecasts of a 0.2 percent decline. For details, see: [nN12417444]

The United States is Canada’s biggest trading partner and the TSX, which has climbed three of the last four sessions, is usually sensitive to U.S. economic data.

Neil Andrew, portfolio manager at Leeward Hedge Funds, said the better-than-expected number is secondary to the wider belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve is keen to help out stock markets.

“The important thing now is that the Fed is in our corner, as is fiscal policy in the United States,” he said. “These are the things we need to see in order to have the hope of monetary reflation.”

Agrium could rise after the world’s third-largest fertilizer producer swung to a profit in the fourth-quarter, beating its own expectations and those of analysts. For details, see: [nN13248601]

Also in earnings, WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) said its fourth-quarter profit tripled. See: [nWNA0852]

Shares of Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO), Canada’s second-largest pipeline operator, may also attract attention after the company said it was considering selling its 25-percent stake in Compania Logistica de Hidrocarburos, a major distributor of petroleum products in Spain. For details, see: [nN13327703]

Commodities were mostly flat with the notable exception of spot gold, which was off about $5 at $900 an ounce.

The resource-heavy S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE has edged up 1.7 percent in the last four days, although it dropped 43.54 points, or 0.3 percent, in the previous session.

The index starts the day at 13,087.38, down 5.4 percent on the year.

$1=$1 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Scott Anderson

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