* TSX up 154.43 points, or 1.34 percent, at 11,667.76
* Resources lead index to highest close in a week
* Eight of 10 sectors gain; utilities, healthcare down (Adds details, quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, July 22 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index surged to its highest close in a week on Thursday, as strong U.S. corporate earnings and buoyant commodity prices eased investor concerns about the health of the economic recovery.
North American stock markets soared on impressive results from Caterpillar (CAT.N), UPS (UPS.N) and 3M (MMM.N), recovering from Wednesday’s hefty retreat, which followed a gloomy outlook from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. [ID:nN21182792] [.N]
Stronger oil and metals prices also helped support the resource-heavy TSX’s move higher, with crude futures ending at an 11-week high above $79. [O/R] [MET/L]
The TSX’s key financials, energy and materials sectors all rallied, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 1 percent at C$52.00, Suncor Energy (SU.TO) ahead 2.7 percent at C$33.41 and Teck Resources TCKb.TO, climbing 3.6 percent to C$36.42.
“We had some really good quarterly earnings numbers reported by some of the U.S. companies. I think that gave some boost to the U.S. market. The U.S. market always affects the Canadian market to some degree,” said Tim Burt, president and chief investment officer at Cardinal Capital Management Inc in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 154.43 points, or 1.34 percent, at 11,667.76, with eight of its 10 main sectors higher. Utilities fell 0.1 percent, while healthcare shares were down 0.2 percent.
Thursday’s rebound came despite the Bank of Canada’s cautious economic assessment. Speaking two days after the bank nudged interest rates higher for the second time in six weeks, Governor Mark Carney said he shared the view of the U.S. Federal Reserve that the world economic outlook is unusually uncertain. [ID:nN22208118]
Despite this, Burt said investors may have found reassurance in Carney’s comment that the “chances of a double dip recession are very remote.”
Still, it is difficult to assess how skittish markets will react to news, said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities, noting that investors fled to the exits on Bernanke’s comments on Wednesday.
“This market doesn’t know which way it wants to go. One day it’s up and next day it’s down, and vice versa. It’s very hard to tell how the markets will react.”
In individual company news, Loblaw Cos (L.TO) reported its quarterly earnings dropped 8.6 percent, as infrastructure and technology investments held back profit. However, shares of the country’s biggest grocer rose 0.9 percent to C$41.78 as the results beat expectations. [ID:nN21179582]
Shoppers Drug Mart SC.TO said its quarterly earnings rose 6.2 percent, driven by stronger sales, but it expects full-year profit to come in below analyst forecasts. Shoppers’ shares climbed 0.3 percent to C$35.60. [ID:nN22245114]
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc (ATDb.TO) raised its hostile takeover bid for Casey’s General Stores (CASY.O) to $1.88 billion, in a renewed attempt to clinch a deal with the U.S. convenience store chain. Couche-Tard stock was up 0.7 percent at C$21.46. [ID:nN22217702]
$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson