CANADA STOCKS-Gold stocks lift TSX to 19-month high; financials slip

Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:14pm EDT

* TSX rises 20.09 points, or 0.16 percent, to 12,878.58
    * Index hits highest level since August 2011
    * Seven of 10 main index sectors decline
    * Inmet shares up 2 pct after First Quantum extends offer

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
closed up on Tuesday and hit a 19-month high earlier in the day
as gold shares made strong gains on the highest bullion price in
nearly two weeks, helping offset worries about the European
economy and weakness in financials.
    The price of gold climbed more than 1 percent after a top
European Central Bank official said the euro zone crisis was not
over, which enhanced gold's safe-haven attraction. 
    Gold-mining stocks, which are still down about 15 percent
since the start of the year, typically track the price of the
precious metal.
    "The long-term drivers are still in place for higher gold
prices," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of
research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
    "I'm quite positive on the long-term outlook for gold and
for gold stocks by extension," he added. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 20.09 points, or 0.16 percent, at 12,878.58.
It earlier reached 12,904.71, its highest point since August
2011.
    The Toronto market's recent rally has led some investors to
say that stock valuations are no longer cheap. 
    "Canada is expensive. Period. There is no way around it,"
said Wendell Perkins, a senior portfolio manager at Manulife
Asset Management, who helps manage about C$1 billion in assets.
    "You have big chunks of the Canadian market that are
overpriced," he said, pointing to financial, telecom and utility
shares.
    Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on
Tuesday.
    The materials sector, which includes miners, was up 1.7
percent.
    Goldcorp Inc rose 2.4 percent to C$33.96, and Iamgold
Corp climbed 9.1 percent to C$7.45. Fertilizer giant
Potash Corp was up 1.3 percent at C$42.74.
    Energy stocks gained 0.1 percent, with oil prices rising.
Suncor added about 0.2 percent to C$31.64.
    Financials, the index's weightiest sector, gave back 0.2
percent. Brookfield Asset Management fell 2.2 percent
to C$37.81, and Toronto-Dominion Bank slipped 0.5
percent to C$84.92.
    BlackBerry dropped 3 percent to C$14.83 a day after
recording a near 14 percent jump on takeover speculation and on
plans to start selling its latest smartphone in the United
States.
    In company news, First Quantum Minerals Ltd said it
will extend its C$5.1 billion ($4.97 billion) hostile bid for
its smaller rival Inmet Mining Corp by a few days after
a majority of Inmet shareholders tendered shares in favor of the
offer. 
    Inmet shares were up nearly 2 percent at C$69.98.
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A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

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