CANADA STOCKS-TSX climbs as U.S. data warms sentiment
* TSX rises 53.38 points, or 0.49 percent, to 12,010.28 * Nine of 10 main index sectors advance * Aimia jumps after Aeroplan deal with TD Bank By John Tilak TORONTO, June 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Thursday as healthy U.S. economic data lifted investor sentiment and fueled gains in almost every major index sector. Further boosting the mood was data that showing German unemployment dropped unexpectedly in June and that Britain did not suffer a double-dip recession early last year as previously thought. The index's gains was limited, however, by declines in telecoms stocks, which fell for the second straight day after reports that big U.S. player Verizon Communications Inc is looking to enter the Canadian market. On the data front, U.S. consumer spending rebounded in May and new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting the U.S. economy remained on a moderate growth path. "As a result of the massive deleveraging by consumers, they're in a better financial position," said Philip Petursson, managing director, portfolio advisory group, at Manulife Asset Management. "And the job situation is improving, albeit modestly." Recent economic figures show the economic environment in the United States is modestly positive, but not sufficiently robust for the U.S. Federal Reserve to throttle back its stimulus program sharply, Petursson added. "I believe it's not enough for the Fed to rush into tapering." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 53.38 points, or 0.49 percent, at 12,010.28. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, rose more than 1 percent, with gold-mining stocks climbing with the price of bullion. Barrick Gold Corp was up 1.2 percent at C$15.69, and Goldcorp Inc was up 1.5 percent at C$23.74. Energy shares added 0.6 percent. In the group, Suncor Energy Inc gained 1.2 percent to C$30.79. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose 0.2 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia added 0.8 percent to C$55.96. Toronto-Dominion Bank said it has agreed to become the primary credit card issuer for Aeroplan, an air travel loyalty program owned by Aimia, which could end rival CIBC's long-standing partnership with Aeroplan. Aimia's shares were up 11.1 percent at C$15.46. CIBC fell 0.3 percent to C$74.73, and TD rose 0.5 percent to C$83.82. The telecoms group, the only sector to decline, slipped 0.1 percent. Telus Corp gave back 2.3 percent to C$29.99. Despite Thursday's gains, the benchmark Canadian index is still down 3.4 percent since the start of the year. The sentiment for Canadian stocks is "mediocre at best," Petursson said. "I don't think investors are embracing Canadian equities as they once used to."