CANADA STOCKS-Banks, energy shares lift TSX on U.S. data optimism
* TSX rises 25.67 points, or 0.20 percent, to 12,706.38 * Eight of 10 main sectors advance * TransAlta shares fall after force majeure declared By John Tilak TORONTO, March 26 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Tuesday, led by the energy and financial sectors, as positive economic data from the United States buoyed investor sentiment. Gains were kept in check as gold shares weakened as an easing of worries over Cyprus lessened the appeal of gold as a safe haven and weighed on bullion prices. Data showed orders for long-lasting U.S.-made goods surged last month and home prices posted their biggest year-on-year gain in six and a half years in January. "The thinking is that as the U.S. economy continues to charge ahead, that should spill over into the Canadian economy as well," Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver, said. "If the United States is growing at a 2 to 3 percent rate, that should offset some of our domestic weakness," he added. Investors also tracked the developments in Cyprus, where the banks are to remain closed until Thursday and will be subject to capital controls to prevent a run on deposits. "Cyprus is still on peoples' minds. We're going back and forth on that," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier. "Is it going to set a precedent for other countries that get into trouble?" The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 25.67 points, or 0.20 percent, at 12,706.38. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, climbed 0.3 percent. Toronto Dominion Bank added 0.6 percent to C$84.68. Energy shares gained 0.3 percent as the price of oil jumped. In company news, TransAlta Corp declared force majeure at its 395-megawatt Keephills 1 power plant in Alberta due to a winding failure in the generator. Shares of the power generation company were down 0.7 percent at C$14.72. The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, fell 0.7 percent, with gold shares down about 1 percent. Bullion prices slumped on lower demand after Cyprus secured a bailout deal. Goldcorp Inc slipped 0.7 percent to C$33.45. Barrick Gold Corp gave back 1.1 percent to C$29.32 amid news the company, the world's largest gold miner, is seeking a successor to founder and Chairman Peter Munk.
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