CANADA STOCKS-Commodities gain on Syria fears, drive TSX higher

Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:31am EDT

* TSX rises 29.62 points, or 0.24 percent, to 12,620.85
    * Five of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Goldcorp, Barrick lead gainers
    * National Bank climbs after results

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
climbed on Wednesday as concerns about potential Western
military action against Syria drove up commodity prices to
record levels and helped lift shares of energy and materials
companies.
    The United Nations Security Council was set for a showdown
over Syria as Britain sought authorization for Western military
action that Russia called premature and seems certain to block.
 
    Fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon begin easing
off its monetary stimulus measures also played on the minds of
investors.
    With tensions in Syria escalating, the price of gold reached
a 3-1/2 month-high as its safe-haven appeal grew, and oil hit a
six-month high on worries about potential supply problems.
  
    "Both of those (oil and gold) have moved on the fear that
hostilities in the Middle East will spill over, become more
problematic for the West, and possibly impact supply and
demand," said John Stephenson, senior vice president at First
Asset Investment Management Inc.
    While the overall mood was pessimistic, despite positive
earnings results from the Canadian banks and improving global
economic data, investors are trying to benefit from short-term
gains in commodity prices, he said.
    "It's really a geopolitical and macro call," Stephenson
said. "If you believe gold will go higher from here and oil will
go higher from here, why muck around with the company. Why not
just play the futures and buy the commodity?"
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 29.62 points, or 0.24 percent, at 12,620.85,
recovering from its biggest drop in more than two months in the
previous session.
    Five of the 10 main sectors on the index advanced. 
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, rose 0.8
percent, helped by a 1.5 percent jump in shares of gold
producers.
    Goldcorp Inc added 2.4 percent to C$32.10, and
Barrick Gold Corp was up 2.5 percent, at C$21.10. The
two stocks had the biggest positive influence on the market
    Helped by the higher oil price, energy shares gained 0.6
percent.
    Canadian Natural Resources Ltd climbed 1.5 percent
to C$32.22, and Suncor Energy Inc rose 0.8 percent to
C$36.39.
    In company news, National Bank of Canada's 
third-quarter profit grew almost 11 percent, as an increase in
trading activity boosted earnings from its financial markets
division. The stock added 1.6 percent to C$80.50.
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