CANADA STOCKS-TSX inches up as worries on U.S. budget deal loom

Fri Nov 9, 2012 4:41pm EST

* TSX rises 5.75 points, or 0.05 percent, to 12,196.80
    * Stronger financials offset weak materials
    * Index slides 1.5 pct on the week


    By Cameron French
    TORONTO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
slightly in thin trade on Friday as investors remained worried
about the looming "fiscal cliff" in the United States, but
insurance and energy shares rose.
    Stocks pared gains after U.S. President Barack Obama said
any deal with Congress to avert a fiscal crisis must come with
higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans, suggesting an
agreement to avoid automatic tax hikes and spending cuts is not
imminent. 
    "The market is not focusing on Europe right now. The market
is focusing on what's going on in America. That's the only leg
in the stool that's keeping everything together right now," said
John O'Connell, chief executive of money manager Davis Rea.
    Investors fear that if lawmakers cannot reach a compromise
on reducing the U.S. budget deficit, the $600 billion in
automatic spending cuts and tax rises scheduled to kick in
beginning in January will drive the United States back into
recession.
    Five of the 10 TSX subgroups finished higher, as strong oil
prices helped drive a 0.24 percent rise in energy shares, while
insurers led the heavily weighted financials sector 0.48 percent
higher.
    Sun Life Financial rose 3.3 percent to C$26.14,
while Manulife Financial climbed 3.1 percent to C$12.18
after both insurers released stronger-than expected
third-quarter results this week.
    Weighing on the index was the materials group, which fell
0.85 percent as gold miners gave up some of their gains from
earlier in the week.
    New Gold slid 3.1 percent to C$10.70, while Iamgold
 dropped 2.4 percent to C$15.40.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 ended the session up 5.75 points, or 0.05 percent, at
12,196.80. Volume was light with a total of 302.7 million shares
traded. For the week, the index fell 1.5 percent.
    "On the whole, global growth expectations have taken a
little bit of a trip to the downside this week and the TSX has
suffered from those revised expectations," said Elvis Picardo,
strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities
in Vancouver.
    Data showing that U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its
highest level in more than five years and U.S.
wholesale inventories rose in September by the most in nine
months failed to change the mood. 
    In individual company news, shares of Canadian
home-improvement retailer Rona Inc jumped 8.2 percent
to C$10.12 after it said longtime CEef executive Robert Dutton
was stepping down. 
    The resignation could signal a change in strategy at Rona,
which earlier this year rejected a takeover offer from
U.S.-based rival Lowe's Cos Inc. 
    Telus Corp climbed 1.5 percent to C$64.49 after
Canada's third-largest wireless company reported an 8 percent
rise in third-quarter profit. 
    Attention over the weekend will focus on a Greek parliament
vote on its 2013 budget set to take place on Sunday. The budget
must be passed to unlock a further tranche of international aid.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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