* TSX rises 17.43 points, or 0.14 percent, to 12,522.24
* TransCanada shares rise 2.4 pct on Petronas deal
* First Quantum drops more than 4 pct amid takeover battle
By Solarina Ho and John Tilak
TORONTO, Jan 9 Canada's main stock index closed
moderately higher on Wednesday, aided by a rise in TransCanada
Corp after the company announced a C$6.5 billion
pipeline deal, but gains were tempered by caution over the
outlook for global economic growth.
TransCanada shares rose 2.4 percent to C$48.39 after the
country's largest pipeline operator revealed plans to build
C$6.5 billion worth of natural gas pipelines for Progress Energy
Canada, a unit of Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, in British
The market, however, stayed anxious over the fallout from
last month's fiscal crisis in the United States and ahead of
policy meetings of European central banks.
Investors are keeping a close eye on whether the U.S.
fiscal-cliff scare affected fourth-quarter earnings and
corporate forecasts, said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice
president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
"This is the first indication we are going to get from many
of the bellwether companies about how they see 2013 shaping up,"
Alcoa Inc, the largest aluminum producer in the
United States, said on Tuesday it expects demand for the metal
to grow in 2013, helped in part by strong sales to aerospace and
"It's Alcoa's earnings yesterday that's setting the mood,"
said Serge Pepin, vice president of investment strategy at BMO
Asset Management Canada. "If the earnings season can show itself
as relatively positive or better than expected, the mood can
really solidify on that."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
climbed 17.43 points, or 0.14 percent, to 12,522.24.
Seven of the index's main groups rose.
"Though we've gone through averting the fiscal cliff,
investors still feel anxious about the first quarter of this
year. Europe has not gone away, although we're seeing some
stability there," Pepin said.
Spain and Italy will hold their first debt sales of the year
on Thursday, which may reveal the depth of demand for peripheral
euro zone debt. The Spanish auction could also offer clues on
the timing of a much-anticipated request by the government for
international financial aid.
The index's materials sector, which includes mining stocks,
reversed earlier losses to end a marginal 0.05 percent higher,
tracking steady gold and copper prices. Commodities market
sentiment remained cautious over the global growth outlook and
ahead of the central bank meetings in Europe.
In the materials group, fertilizer giant Potash Corp
rose 1.35 percent to C$41.94, but miner Goldcorp
was off 1.09 percent to finish at C$35.42.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd fell 4.41 percent to
C$20.59 after the Canadian base metals miner took its takeover
bid for smaller competitor Inmet Mining Corp hostile.
"Commodities continue to be a drag. As a result, the TSX has
begun the year looking like it's probably going to lag the S&P
500 for the third year running," Picardo said.
"Commodity prices are caught in a slump. But that is
unlikely to improve until we have concrete evidence of a
turnaround in the global economy," he added.
The index's energy sector finished up 0.04 percent after
trading lower earlier in the session as TransCanada's gains
offset a 0.55 percent decline in Canadian Natural Resources
to C$29.18, and a 1.08 percent retreat by Canadian Oil
Sands Ltd to C$20.09. Encana Corp was down
0.66 percent at C$19.42. Oil prices fell and weighed on the
Shaw Communications shares edged up 0.75 percent to C$22.71
after the company reported a higher quarterly profit and raised
Alliance Grain Traders Inc shares jumped 10.23
percent to C$14.11 after Cargill Inc agreed to a five-year deal
to be the exclusive seller in North America of proteins made by
Alliance subsidiary United Pulse Trading Inc.