TSX Ends Higher Led By Financial Stocks -- Canadian Commentary

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(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks ended higher on Wednesday, after rallying from from negative territory driven mostly by financial and energy stocks, shrugging off some soft private jobs data from the U.S. Nevertheless, investors continued to worry over the health of the global global economy with signs of sluggishness in the Chinese economy and the emerging markets currency weaknesses.

In some significant economic news, employment in the U.S. private sector increased less than expected in January, a report from ADP and Moody's Analytics showed Wednesday. Meanwhile, data from the Institute for Supply Management's service sector survey in the U.S. showed that activity in the sector grew at a faster rate in January, with most respondents reflecting an improvement in business conditions.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Wednesday at 13,559.69, up 55.21 points or 0.41 percent. The index scaled an intraday high of 13,569.78 and a low of 13,455.80.

The heavyweight Financial Index gathered 0.98 percent with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 1.50 percent and the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) up 1.16 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) added 1.04 percent, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) gained 0.50 percent. Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC.TO) gained 1.01 percent.

The Global Gold Index shed 1.48 percent, although gold futures for April delivery, the most actively traded contract, gaining $5.70 or 0.5 percent to close at $1,256.90 an ounce Wednesday on the Nymex.

Among gold stocks, IAMGOLD Corporation (IMG) dropped 3.91 percen, while Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) dived 3.06 percent. Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) slipped 3.38 percent, while Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) dropped 0.98 percent.

Meanwhile, Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) shed 1.22 percent after refuting allegations by Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK.TO) of improper activities related to its offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Osisko. Goldcorp extended its $2.5 billion takeover offer. Osisko Mining dropped 0.91 percent.

The Capped Materials Index dropped 0.67 percent, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) up 2.05 percent.

Crude oil ended higher after official supply data from the Energy Information Administration showed crude stockpiles in the U.S. to have increased last week, albeit less than expected.

The Energy Index gained 0.98 percent, with U.S. crude oil futures for March delivery, the most actively traded contract, adding $0.19 or 0.2 percent to close at $97.38 a barrel Wednesday on the Nymex.

Among energy stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ.TO) moved up 1.76 percent, while Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) added 1.91 percent. Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) moved up 0.60 percent, while Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) added 0.57 percent.

The Information Technology Index added 0.24 percent, with smartphone maker BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) gaining 1.03 percent.

The Diversified Metals & Mining Index moved up 0.13 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) up 4.20 percent, and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) up 0.72 percent. Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) slipped 0.04 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index moved up 0.40 percent, with Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) gaining 1.98 percent and Air Canada (AC.B.TO) down 0.93 percent.

In corporate news, Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) received a 72-hour strike notice from the union representing about 3,000 conductors and rail-yard workers. CNR shares were up 0.19 percent.

The Globe and Mail reports an Ontario appeals court has reversed a lower court decision and will allow three major securities class actions seeking almost $4-billion in damages against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) to go to trial. The stock gained 1.30 percent.

TMX Group (X.TO), the owner of the TSX stock exchange, shed 0.98 percent, after reporting a 27 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, well above analysts' estimates.

Wal-Mart's Canadian unit will invest nearly C$500 million in its operations over the next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Insurance company Intact Financial Corp. (IFC.TO) dropped 1.13 percent after indicating its fourth-quarter profit fell 40 percent due to weather related claims.

In economic news, employment in the U.S. private sector increased in January, but less than what analysts expected, a report from ADP and Moody's Analytics showed Wednesday. Private sector employment increased by 175,000 jobs in January following a downwardly revised increase of 227,000 jobs in December. Economists expected private sector employment to rise by about 180,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, results from the Institute for Supply Management's service sector survey showed activity in the sector grew at a slightly faster rate in January. The ISM's non-manufacturing index edged up to 54.0 in January from 53.0 in December, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the sector. Economists expected the index to show a reading of 53.7.

From Europe, U.K. service sector growth slowed unexpectedly to a seven-month low at the start of the year as new business growth posted weaker growth. The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers' Index for the service sector fell to 58.3 in January from 58.8 in December, hitting the lowest level in seven months, data from Markit Economics and the the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply showed Wednesday.

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This article appears in: News Headlines

Referenced Stocks: ABX , BMO , BNS , CM , CNQ

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