CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits one-week high on strong overseas data, Manulife

Fri Feb 8, 2013 4:40pm EST

* TSX ends up 45.31 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,801.23
    * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Manulife up 2.0 percent after price target increased

    By Claire Sibonney
    TORONTO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks hit 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. 
    "I think the next couple of weeks now you'll see the
Canadian market react to the specific earnings, more so than the
overall economic picture," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager
at Caldwell Securities, noting volumes were very light on Friday
because of the snowstorm hitting Canada and the U.S. Northeast.
    Manulife, which reported a return to quarterly profit on
Thursday, was one of the most influential stocks 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 2 percent at C$14.84.
    Toronto-Dominion Bank rose 0.7 percent to C$83.43.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 ended up 45.31 points, or 0.36 percent, at 12,801.23,
after touching 12,823.50, its highest point since Jan. 30. The
TSX ended the week up 0.3 percent. 
    The index was not riding as high as its counterparts on Wall
Street, with the Nasdaq at a 12-year closing high and the S&P
500 index at a five-year peak. 
    "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."
    Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. The
financial sector, the index's largest, gained 0.6 percent. 
    Energy shares climbed 0.5 percent as oil prices rose
following the Chinese data. Nexen Inc was up 1.4
percent at C$26.97. 
    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 some confidence 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.
    In other individual company news, Potash Corp 
climbed 1.4 percent to C$42.57 after Canpotex Ltd, the offshore
selling agency for leading North American potash miners, signed
a new potash supply contract with Indian buyers at a smaller
than expected discount.    
    BlackBerry was down 2.4 percent to C$16.51 after the
company said on Thursday it has no immediate plans to offer its
BlackBerry 10 line in Japan, suggesting that it sees little
chance of Japan emerging as a major market for its new devices
at this time.
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