CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on economic data, but Greek worry nags

Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:26pm EST

* TSX up 28.22 pts, or 0.2 pct, at 12,382.69

* Materials, energy shares rise, financials drag

* Greek bailout deal delay weighs

* Global data, China comments boost sentiment

By Jon Cook

TORONTO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks were higher at midday on Wednesday on encouraging economic data and news that China would continue to buy up European debt, but enthusiasm was tempered by reports that Greece's debt bailout may be delayed.

Greece approved painful austerity measures on Sunday to secure another European Union debt bailout but sources said the deal may now be delayed until after Athens holds elections in April.

That was enough to keep nervous investors on the sidelines as any delay would endanger Greece's ability to finance 14.5 billion euros ($19 billion) in bond redemptions due next month.

"The volumes are speaking to the uncertainties that are out there," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "It looks we're avoiding the doomsday scenarios at the moment, but there's still not a lot of enthusiasm."

The uncertainty pushed financial shares slightly lower with Royal Bank of Canada, down 0.6 percent at C$53.32, leading the sector's losses.

At 12:20 p.m. (1720 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 28.22 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,382.69.

Supporting the market was a key gauge of U.S. manufacturing, which showed activity in New York State picked up in February to its highest level in more than 1-1/2 years.

Also lifting shares was better-than-expected GDP data from Germany and France and comments by China's central bank governor that the world's No. 2 economy would play a bigger role in solving Europe's debt problems.

The index's key materials sector cheered the news, rising 0.5 percent, mostly on the back of gold mining issues as bullion prices climbed 1 percent in early trade.

Eldorado Gold, up 2.9 percent at C$13.40, Barrick Gold, which climbed 0.2 percent to C$47.70, and Yamana Gold, up 1.5 percent to C$16.33, were among the top gainers in the materials group.

Potash Corp was the biggest single heavyweight gainer, edging up 0.7 percent to C$44.76.

Oil and gas producers rose 0.6 percent after Brent crude hit a six-month high near $120 a barrel on Wednesday on concern about supply from Iran, other Middle East producers and Africa.

Canadian Natural Resources led the way, up 0.6 percent to C$36.58.

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