February 24, 2010 / 4:24 PM / 9 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX higher as Bernanke comments offset homes data

* TSX up 0.37 percent at 11,569.81

* Bernanke says rates to stay low for long time

* U.S. home sales tumble to record low in January (Adds details)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index held higher on Wednesday as investors weighed comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke against softer U.S. home prices.

Prices of key commodities oil and gold recovered early losses as the U.S. dollar weakened after Bernanke’s said economic conditions would warrant continued low U.S. interest rates, helping to lift the resource-laden index. [ID:nN23153536]

But U.S. home prices, which unexpectedly fell to a record low in January, took the wind out of the market’s sails, and briefly pushed the TSX into negative territory. [ID:nN24373288]

Top advancers included Research In Motion RIM.TO, up 2.5 percent at C$74.03, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) rose 0.7 percent to C$71.70. Cameco (CCO.TO) rose 1.5 percent to C$30.10.

“The market is more than anything hung up on what’s going to happen with interest rates and what that does to the economy, what that does to the fragile consumer,” said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Wealth Management.

At 10:47 a.m. (1547 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 43.10 points, or 0.37 percent, at 11,569.81. Six of the index’s 10 main groups were higher.

All of the big banks were advancers as well, ahead of the kickoff of quarterly earnings on Thursday. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was the most influential lender on the rise, up 0.64 percent at C$56.41.

Sherritt International (S.TO) was another active mover, up 4.75 percent at C$7.05, after the miner and energy producer returned to profit in the fourth quarter and said a key nickel project was advancing. [ID:nN24130257]

On the downside, Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO) fell 2.6 percent to C$36.09 as the news and information provider reported a lower quarterly profit and signaled that financial customer losses in 2009 would continue to hurt revenue in the current year. [ID:nN24169637] (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)

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