CANADA STOCKS-Banks lift TSX on Cyprus hopes; BlackBerry falls

Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:24pm EDT

* TSX rises 9.48 points, or 0.07 percent, to 12,757.35
    * Six of 10 major sectors advance
    * Index falls 0.57 percent this week
    * BlackBerry shares slip on lackluster U.S. launch

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 22 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
advanced on Friday as hopes that Cyprus will strike a bailout
deal before a looming deadline boosted financial shares and
helped offset an 8 percent fall in BlackBerry.
    Shares of BlackBerry stumbled as it faced a difficult
challenge launching the sale of its new smartphone in the United
States. 
    The European Central Bank gave Cyprus until Monday to raise
billions of euros to secure an international bailout, which
could help the country avert a default and banking meltdown.
With the Parliament having rejected one deal, investors were
eyeing what is expected to be a hectic weekend of negotiations. 
    The Cyprus predicament has highlighted risks to the economic
recovery in the broader euro zone, and investors fear that the
failure to cut a deal could have a ripple effect in other
countries.
    "The Cypriots do not hold a lot of cards in this game of
brinkmanship, especially after coming back empty-handed from
Moscow," said Stephen Wood, chief market strategist, North
America, at Russell Investments, which has more than $162
billion in assets under management.
    "Our biggest concern about Cyprus would be, 'Does it have a
contagion consequence in Spain or Italy?'," he added. "Right now
it doesn't appear to be the case."
    For now, investors are largely assuming that lawmakers in
the island will work this out somehow. The Toronto market's
gains followed declines in three of the previous four sessions.
    "People seem to have become more optimistic as the week has
progressed," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC
Markets. He noted that investors are taking an approach that the
negotiators will "come up with a new bailout plan and not just
let the whole thing spiral out of control."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 9.48 points, or 0.07 percent, at 12,757.35.
The index ended the week 0.57 percent lower.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on
Friday.
    Financials, the index's weightiest sector, gained 0.5
percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest
bank, added 1 percent to C$61.37. 
    Energy stocks shed their initial gains and were down 0.1
percent as the price of oil fell back. 
    The materials group, which includes mining stocks, gave back
0.3 percent, with gold producers falling 0.5 percent. Gold
prices fell 0.4 percent. 
    Gold stocks are down nearly 15 percent since the start of
the year.
    "The safe haven trade got very expensive. Peace of mind got
very expensive," Wood said. "Investors have come to recognize
that they need to look into risk assets."
    In company news, First Quantum Minerals Ltd said it
secured enough shareholder support to take over Inmet Mining
Corp, sealing a C$5.1 billion ($4.98 billion) deal that
gives it control of one of the world's largest untapped copper
deposits. First Quantum shares were down 2.3 percent.
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