February 22, 2008 / 2:06 PM / 11 years ago

Toronto stocks seen up on RBC buy, earnings

TORONTO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was set to rise on Friday, emboldened by Royal Bank of Canada’s (RY.TO) purchase of a prized fund manager, as well as solid earnings from Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO).

The index was seen bouncing back from a modest drop in Thursday’s session, in which energy and financial stocks were the biggest drags.

Royal Bank was center stage after it scooped up Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management Ltd, one of Canada’s largest and last independent fund managers, in a deal worth about C$1.36 billion. For details, see: [nN21506094]

“It’s obviously a good deal, but it’s especially a good deal for Royal Bank because it fills a big gap in their strategic range,” said Gavin Graham, chief investment officer at Guardian Group of Funds.

The acquisition by Canada’s biggest bank could give a boost to the TSX financial sector that has been flat over the last two weeks, while the overall index has risen steadily.

Rogers Communications also made early headlines after Canada’s top wireless carrier and cable-television firm reported a fourth-quarter profit that largely met analysts’ expectations. See: [nN22555680]

“Rogers’ profit is up 44 percent so they’re firing on all cylinders compared with (competitors) like Telus (T.TO), where we’re seeing disappointing numbers in terms of new wireless subscribers being signed up,” said Graham.

Among others reporting earnings, Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) said its quarterly earnings rose. For details, see: [nN21605388]

In the mining sector, Kinross Gold (K.TO) and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) could also attract attention after both companies reported sharply higher quarterly profits after the close of markets on Thursday. See: [nN21604344] and [nN21490234]

The resource-heavy TSX index has been swept higher this week on a surge in oil and gold prices. Both U.S. crude and spot gold were modestly higher early on Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE starts the day at 13,509.55 after slipping 42.14 points, or 0.3 percent, in the previous session.

It has risen 5 percent in the last 10 sessions but is still down 2.3 percent so far this year.

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Scott Anderson

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