CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 1-wk high on strong overseas data, Manulife

Fri Feb 8, 2013 11:24am EST

* TSX rises 51.24 points, or 0.40 percent, to 12,807.16
    * Eight of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Manulife up nearly 2 percent after price target increased

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks touched a
one-week high on Friday, led by financial and energy shares, as
positive economic data from China, Europe and the United States
offset weak domestic numbers and as Manulife Financial Corp
 rose on reaction to its results. 
    China's exports and imports surged in January, the country's
first hard data of the year showed, pointing to robust domestic
demand and a pick-up in the economy. 
    That more than offset news that Canada's economy
unexpectedly shed 21,900 jobs in January, delivering a reality
check after months of outsized employment growth, and confirming
forecasts of slowing economic expansion. 
    "We're seeing the market vote on the side of the global data
today," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward
Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. "The global growth story, while
certainly not firing on all cylinders, appears to be improving
at the margin."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 51.24 points, or 0.40 percent, at 12,807.16,
after touching 12,815.23, its highest point since Jan. 30. 
    Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. The
financial sector, the index's weightiest, gained 0.6 percent. 
    Manulife, which reported a return to quarterly profit on
Thursday, played the biggest role of any single stock in leading
the market higher. The insurer extended the modest gain it made
on Thursday after several analysts raised their price targets
for the stock. Manulife shares were up 1.8 percent at C$14.81.
    Toronto-Dominion Bank rose 0.5 percent to C$83.29.
    Energy shares climbed 0.6 percent as oil prices rose
following the Chinese data. Suncor Energy Inc,
Canada's largest energy company, was up 0.7 percent at C$32.45. 
    Chinese exports grew 25 percent in January from a year
earlier and imports surged 28.8 percent, with the resulting
$29.2 billion trade surplus topping a market expectation of $22
billion.
    Energy prices were also supported by news that Germany's
trade surplus hit its second-highest level in more than 60 years
in 2012, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's
biggest economy.
    Also giving support to the market, rising exports and less
imported oil helped push the U.S. trade deficit to its narrowest
point in nearly three years in December.
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