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Financials

CANADA STOCKS-Commodity-linked gains, upbeat GDP data lift Toronto index

(Updates prices, adds analyst comments)

March 1 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Tuesday, boosted by strength in commodity-linked stocks and upbeat domestic GDP data, although an escalating Russia-Ukraine crisis kept sentiment in check.

At 9:48 a.m. ET (14:48 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 67.94 points, or 0.32%, at 21,194.3, aided by a more than 2% jump in both energy and mining sectors.

The energy sector climbed 2.3%, extending gains for a sixth straight session, aided by stronger crude prices as concerns over supply disruptions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions outweighed talks of a coordinated global release of crude stocks.

Canada’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.7% in the fourth quarter, beating expectations, while real gross domestic product (GDP) most likely rose 0.2% in January after staying flat in December, Statistics Canada preliminary data showed.

“The fact that Statistics Canada is suggesting that the economy managed to grind ahead in that month (January) to me is a very pleasant positive surprise given that big parts of the economy saw restrictions kick in at the start of the year; mostly Ontario and Quebec but other areas as well,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 2.3% as gold futures rose 1.2% to $1,921.5 an ounce.

Global equities fell as markets struggled with massive uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian armored column bore down on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Tuesday and invasion forces fired rocket barrages into the center of the country’s second largest city Kharkiv, on the sixth day of Russia’s assault on its western neighbor.

Simmering geopolitical tensions and concerns around soaring inflation have roiled markets in the last few weeks, although strength in commodities has cushioned the impact on the TSX.

Bank of Montreal and Bank of Nova Scotia gained 1.3% and 0.9% respectively, as they joined their Canadian rivals in beating analysts’ expectations for first-quarter profits.

Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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