CANADA STOCKS-TSX lifted by Manulife results, ECB rate cut

Thu May 2, 2013 5:28pm EDT

* TSX rises 58.35 points, or 0.47 percent, to 12,379.64
    * Seven of the 10 main index sectors advance
    * Goldcorp slips after profit drops
    * Catamaran, Valeant stumble after results
    * Manulife rises about 4 percent after earnings report

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, May 2 (Reuters) - Financial shares pushed Canada's
main stock index higher on Thursday after the European Central
Bank cut interest rates and insurers Manulife Financial Corp
 and Great West Life reported encouraging
earnings.
    The market was also supported by data showing the number of
Americans filing new jobless benefits claims fell sharply last
week to its lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09
recession, a sign the job market is still healing even though
the economy remains weak. 
    The European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first
time in 10 months, promising to provide as much liquidity as
euro zone banks need well into next year and to help smaller
companies get access to credit.       
    But the gains were limited by data that showed manufacturing
across the world stumbled last month, underlining the fragility
of the global economy and building the case for more action by
leading central banks. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 58.35 points, or 0.47 percent, at 12,379.64.
    The resource-filled index, whose direction is closely tied
to the path of the global economy, is down on the year, trailing
gains on the S&P 500 and other U.S. stock indexes.
    "For Toronto, a move above 13,000 would be a major event
that could bring a lot of people back into the market," said Ron
Meisels, technical analyst and president of Phases & Cycles in
Montreal. "Retail investors are sitting on their hands."
    "Historically, Toronto does best in the tail-end of the bull
market," he added.
     Investors entering the market must be selective about where
they put their money, said Julie Brough, vice president at
Morgan Meighen & Associates. "This is a stock picker's market;
it's not an indexing market."
    "To get the index aggressively moving upward again, you need
some support from the resources," she added. "Right now we don't
have the foundation for that."
    Seven of the 10 main sectors of the index were higher on
Thursday. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
gained 0.9 percent, getting support from Manulife, whose shares
were up almost 4 percent at C$15.33.
     Manulife reported a 56 percent drop in profit in the first
quarter but met expectations, while earnings at rival Great-West
Lifeco Inc rose 15 percent. 
    Great-West shares climbed 1.3 percent to C$27.63.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, was up
0.5 percent, helped by higher bullion prices. 
    But shares of miner Goldcorp Inc fell 0.6 percent
after the miner reported a 35 percent drop in first-quarter
profit as lower metal prices and higher costs outweighed a boost
in gold sales. 
    The index's healthcare group gave back 1.2 percent as
Catamaran Corp tumbled 7.2 percent after the pharmacy
benefit manager reported first-quarter results. The stock was
the biggest negative influence on the index. 
    Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc lost 2.1
percent after the drugmaker reported quarterly results and said
it would seek acquisitions in markets avoided by its stiffest
competition. 
    In other news, the government said after the market close
that Stephen Poloz, head of the country's export credit agency,
will take over as Bank of Canada governor when Mark Carney
leaves in June. That was a surprise for markets, which had
tipped Carney's senior deputy as the most likely choice.
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