* TSX ends up 71.95 points, or 0.57 percent, at 12,732.39
* Nine of 10 main sectors advance
* Sears Canada falls 4 percent after results
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Feb 27 Canada's main stock index rose
on Wednesday, helped by oil and gas shares, as U.S. data pointed
to a jump in business spending plans, while gold miners fell as
Among the leading lights on the index were several oil and
gas companies active in Canada's western oil fields, including
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, which gained 1.9
percent to C$30.98, and Enbridge Inc, which added 1.6
percent to C$45.54.
"I'm not sure that this is the beginning of a major sea
change in energy, but it's certainly nice to get a bit of a
bounce," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital
Domestic energy producers have in recent months felt the
pinch of a deep discount for Canadian oil.
The financial sector also added to the index's gains,
despite some of its main banking constituents struggling to
shake off a pessimistic reading from Bank of Montreal's
"The retail numbers within BMO's numbers were a little
squishy and people immediately extrapolated a sample of one to
the other four or five," Hand said.
Four more major Canadian banks -- Royal Bank of Canada
, Toronto Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank
of Commerce, and National Bank of Canada -- are
due to report earnings on Thursday morning.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended up 71.95 points, or 0.57 percent, at 12,732.39.
Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
The market was supported by data signaling a healthier U.S.
economy: a gauge of planned U.S. business spending recorded its
biggest gain in more than a year and another report indicated
the housing market continues to strengthen.
GOLD WEIGHS, ITALY DOWNPLAYED
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 in the 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 materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped
0.4 percent, with the world's largest gold producer, Barrick
Gold falling 1.4 percent to C$31.63, making it the
heaviest weight on the index.
The next five heaviest weights were also gold miners.
The price of bullion fell 1 percent, reversing course after
a big one-day gain on Tuesday, as pending deep U.S. spending
cuts stoked deflation worries.
North American equities were broadly boosted by Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke's defense of the central bank's stimulus efforts.
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
5 percent to C$8.85.