* TSX ends up 0.34 percent at 12,280.97
* Royal Bank hits lifetime high on upgrade
* RIM shows new operating system, stock rebounds (Updates with details, background)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, April 26 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher for a sixth straight session on Monday, helped by strength in consumer discretionary issues and financials.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) hit a record high of C$62.25 during the session on a ratings upgrade, and closed the day up 0.8 percent at C$62.20.
Royal, the country’s biggest bank, was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” by BMO Capital Markets, while Genuity Capital Markets raised its price targets for all of Canada’s six big banks. [ID:nSGE63P0Q0] [ID:nWNA9499]
Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) hit a 52-week high, ending the session up 0.74 percent at C$65.41, following its announcement that its U.S. unit will acquire assets of Amcore, a U.S. lender. [ID:nN23255705]
The acquisition follows a similar deal by Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), and is seen as the start of a pickup in a long-awaited series of acquisitions by big Canadian banks, which weathered the financial crisis better that most of their global peers. [ID:nN2690352]
Overall, the financials group was up 0.11 percent, with its rise kept in check by weakness in Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO), down 0.8 percent at C$31.15, and a small decline by TD Bank, off 0.21 percent at C$76.64.
By contrast, U.S. stocks edged lower on Monday as bank shares fell on fears that financial reforms making their way through Congress would curb profits. [ID:nN2696903] [ID:nN26200389] [ID:nN16148428]
“Canada has been outperforming on strong financials. There are different banks trading year highs. We’re keeping our bid despite the recent selloff in the U.S.,” said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 41.33 points, or 0.34 percent, at 12,280.97, its highest close since September 2008. It didn’t finish too far off its session peak at 12,297.88, its highest level since Sept. 26, 2008.
Seven of the index’s 10 main groups were higher.
The consumer discretionary sector jumped nearly 1 percent, backed by several stocks that hit year highs, including Rona Inc RON.TO, Corus Entertainment (CJRb.TO), and Magna International MGa.TO.
Rona soared 3.73 percent to C$16.95 as Genuity upgraded the home improvement retailer to “buy” from “hold.” Magna rose 2.15 percent to C$20.92 as the auto-parts maker won U.S. Volkswagen supply contracts. [RCH/CA] [ID:nN26163918]
The TSX index was forced into negative territory early in the session as Research In Motion RIM.TO took a hit, with investors fearing the BlackBerry maker would lose market share despite its announcement of new product launches.
But by session’s end, RIM rebounded to end up 3.24 percent at C$72.87. A sneak peek at a revamped operating system for its smartphone propelled its shares higher. [ID:nN26178007]
Resource sectors managed to hold higher despite weakness across commodity prices, such as oil and gold, because of concerns over Greece’s ongoing debt crisis. [O/R] [GOL/]
The oil group rose 0.26 percent, while materials gained 0.31 percent.
“All resources seem to have fallen into some kind of range over the past three months. We need some other catalyst to really explode commodities higher,” said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
Natural gas major EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) was up 1.25 percent at C$33.08, but the country’s biggest oil producer, Suncor Energy (SU.TO), was down 0.26 percent at C$34.44. Gold major Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) advanced 0.47 percent to C$40.60.
$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson