* TSX up 38.67 points, or 0.31 percent, at 12,699.11
* Seven of 10 main sectors advance
* Sears Canada falls 4 percent after results
By John Tilak
TORONTO, Feb 27 Canada's main stock index was
firmer on Wednesday as gains in oil and gas shares offset
weakness in miners, with investors scanning another round of
testimony by U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for clues about the
central bank's stimulus plans.
The market was also supported by more data signaling a
healthier U.S. economy: U.S. non-defense capital goods orders
excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business
spending plans, jumped 6.3 percent in January, the biggest gain
in more than a year.
That helped alleviate uncertainty on world markets spurred
by the inconclusive results of this week's parliamentary
elections in Italy.
"You have strong durable goods orders that are indicating
that the U.S. economy is on the right track," said Philip
Petursson, managing director, portfolio advisory group, at
Manulife Asset Management. "That, at the end of the day, will be
of greater benefit to the markets than what goes on in Italy."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
was up 38.67 points, or 0.31 percent, at 12,699.11.
Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Financials, the index's weightiest sector, lost 0.3 percent.
Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest bank, fell 1
percent to C$62.64. Several banks are expected to report
quarterly results later this week.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped
0.9 percent, with the price of gold reversing course after a big
one-day gain on Tuesday as fund investors cashed in some
Gold-mining stocks have been reacting sharply to Fed
comments on its quantitative easing program, which has boosted
gold's hedge appeal.
Bernanke was expected to continue on Wednesday to downplay
the idea that the central bank could prematurely end its current
massive monthly bond-buying program.
"What we will see is the confirmation that the U.S. is
improving from an economic standpoint aside from jobs,"
Petursson said. "Jobs continue to be the focus of the Fed and as
such the stimulus will remain in place."
Energy shares added 0.4 percent, with U.S. crude oil
In company news, Sears Canada Inc said its
fourth-quarter profit fell 3 percent on lower sales of hardware
and home electronic goods. The retailer's shares dropped nearly
4 percent to C$8.96.