July 29, 2010 / 8:56 PM / 9 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-Earnings, insurers push TSX higher

* TSX up 32.01 points, or 0.27 percent, at 11,728.64

* Barrick Gold, Potash Corp rally after results

* Four of TSX 10 main groups higher (Adds details, quotes)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, July 29 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index climbed on Thursday, boosted by robust earnings from Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) and Potash Corp POT.TO, while insurers rose on optimism about pending new rules on capital levels.

Barrick, the world’s No. 1 gold producer, rose 0.9 percent to C$42.00 after it posted higher quarterly results on record-high bullion prices. Eldorado (ELD.TO), a smaller Canadian rival, climbed 0.8 percent to C$16.53 after it said its quarterly profit more than doubled. [GOL/] [ID:nN29180081]

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer, jumped 4.6 percent to C$106.39 after it reported a quarterly profit that blew past expectations with a four-fold rise in sales volumes offsetting lower prices for the crop nutrient. Fellow potash producer Agrium AGU.TO rose 3.2 percent to C$64.62. [ID:nN28198150]

“Potash seems to be telling us that prices have bottomed. Potash demand is going to increase year over year and they feel confident enough to raise their guidance going forward. That’s really good news there,” said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.

“We’ve had terrific earnings out of Potash, higher guidance, and a very strong move from Potash and Agrium,” he said.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session up 32.01 points, or 0.27 percent, at 11,728.64, with four of its 10 main sectors higher.

The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 2.31 points higher, or 0.34 percent, at 686.20.

Also supporting the composite’s gains were shares of Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO), which rallied 4.3 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, on a combination of recovering stock markets and signs that pending new rules on capital levels will be less cumbersome than had been thought. [ID:nN29260299]

Like banks, insurers have been bracing for global regulations on capital levels that aim to protect balance sheets in the event of another market meltdown. Canada’s financial services regulator said new requirements will apply to new business only, rather than existing business as some had feared.

“The bottom line is it doesn’t look like Manulife or Sun Life will be required to have more capital than they have now,” Schwartz said.

The picture was more mixed in the big oil and gas sector, which ended the day off 0.1 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose 2.6 percent to C$33.91 after Canada’s No. 1 oil production and refining company posted a profit, up from a year-earlier loss. [ID:nN29245254]

However, results from Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO), the third largest independent oil producer, missed market expectations, sending its shares down 4.8 percent to C$28.54.

Despite the TSX’s gain, equity markets remain volatile, said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.

“Thin markets, very volatile, not a lot of conviction. Tomorrow is the end of the month so people are a little nervous,” he said.

Michael also noted the Toronto market may post a lackluster performance on Friday, heading into a long weekend. The market will be closed on Monday for the Civic Holiday in Ontario, and elsewhere in the country.

“Investors tend to cover their shorts and go flat just in case something happens on the weekend, let alone Monday when we’re not at work. I’d expect for tomorrow investors to close out positions.”

$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson

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