CANADA STOCKS-U.S. data, earnings hopes lift TSX to 2-week high
* TSX rises 78.06 points, or 0.64 percent, to 12,212.97 * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance * Manulife jumps to play market's biggest influence By John Tilak TORONTO, July 8 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Monday to hit a two-week high after positive U.S. jobs data and optimism about the upcoming U.S. earnings season lifted hopes about the economic recovery, driving gains across most major sectors. Friday's U.S. jobs report showed stronger-than-expected growth in June and raised expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will start to dial back its stimulus program this year, reflecting growing strength in the world's largest economy. The market also set its sights on the U.S. earnings season, which is expected to kick off later in the day as Alcoa Inc reports quarterly results after the closing bell. Investors are feeling more confident that the economic recovery is picking up steam, said Gavin Graham, chief strategy officer at Integris Pension Management Corp. "The domestic U.S. economy is doing quite nicely," he said, adding recent data suggests that the private sector is rebounding strongly. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 78.06 points, or 0.64 percent, at 12,212.97, after reaching 12,219.84, its highest since June 20. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Despite Monday's gains, the benchmark Canadian index is down about 1.8 percent since the start of the year. "There hasn't been much evidence of sentiment changing for Canadian equities," said Graham. He says the TSX is being weighed down in particular by the weak performance of gold stocks, which are down about 46 percent this year. "People don't need the disaster insurance of gold if the economy is picking up," Graham said. "You have people selling off gold as the economy gets better." The bullion was up after a two-day sell-off. Gold-mining shares climbed in choppy trade, helping the materials group gain 0.8 percent. Barrick Gold Corp, which hit a 21-year low in the previous session, rose 1.6 percent to C$14.80, and Goldcorp Inc was up 0.9 percent at C$25.70. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added 0.7 percent. Insurer Manulife Financial Corp jumped more than 3 percent to C$17.83 and had the biggest positive influence on the index. Royal Bank of Canada climbed 0.5 percent to C$61.19. Energy shares were up 0.5 percent. TransCanada Corp advanced 1.4 percent to C$46.24. Investors also paid attention to BlackBerry as the smartphone maker's annual general meeting will take place on Tuesday. The stock edged lower and was a drag on the information technology group.
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