TSX up as oil jump boosts energy; Manulife, CP Rail weigh

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index notched a gain on Thursday as surging oil prices boosted energy stocks, while poor earnings hurt insurer Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO and the exit of a major investor weighed on Canadian Pacific Railway CP.TO stock.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The energy group, which accounts for almost one-fifth of the index’s weight, rose 1.2 percent as oil prices rose on short-covering and after a modest drop in stockpiles at a U.S. hub.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 16.73 points, or 0.12 percent, to 14,528.78.

Seven of the index’s 10 main groups ended in positive territory, amid a slew of earnings releases.

“There’s enough good things happening in those individual earnings reports for the analysts to boost their forward earnings estimates,” said John Johnston, chief strategy officer at Davis-Rea.

He said that overall 52-week forward earnings estimates for Canadian stocks had been going up for a few months, which he called a “very constructive sign”.

Earnings beats helped engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc SNC.TO rise 3.1 percent to C$57.62 and retailer Canadian Tire Corp Ltd CTCa.TO gain 4.4 percent to C$143.04.

BCE Inc BCE.TO rose 0.9 percent to C$62.39 after Canada's largest telecommunications company notched strong growth in wireless.

Stock exchange operator TMX Group Ltd X.TO rose 3.4 percent to C$60.71 after reporting a more than doubling of second-quarter profit late on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Manulife, Canada’s biggest life insurer, fell 5.4 percent to C$16.95 after its lower profit missed expectations and it warned of an impending charge while keeping its dividend steady.

The heavyweight financials group slipped 0.5 percent, with fellow insurer Great-West Lifeco Inc GWO.TO down 5.9 percent to C$31.77 and Sun Life Financial Inc SLF.TO off 1.9 percent at C$41.96.

Canadian Pacific declined 3.1 percent to C$186.60, after billionaire investor William Ackman’s hedge fund sold its roughly $1.5 billion stake in the railway.

Agrium AGU.TO fell 0.9 percent to C$116.52 after recording a 16 percent profit drop and lowering its profit guidance for the year.

Davis-Rea’s Johnston said that signs of a pickup in global manufacturing bodes well for Canada’s commodity sectors but that U.S. stocks are more attractive than Canadian ones in a range of other promising areas including industrials, consumer discretionary, technology and healthcare.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish