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Canadian Stocks Climb as Lenders Advance; Manulife Declines

Canadian stocks rose, completing a weekly gain, as banks advanced on prospects of earnings growth and natural gas producers rallied with the commodity.

Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest lender by assets, increased 1.9 percent as UBS AG named it its “most-preferred” Canadian bank stock. Manulife, North America’s fourth-biggest insurer, fell 2.2 percent after surging 24 percent from Nov. 2 through yesterday. EnCana Corp., Canada’s biggest natural gas producer, rallied 2.8 percent as the fuel closed the week up 9.6 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index increased 86.32 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,956.33. For the week, the Canadian benchmark climbed 1.6 percent.

“There’s a little bit of expectations on the earnings coming up, that the banks will report better news than first thought,” said Adrian Mastracci, a money manager at KCM Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver and leader in the Globe & Mail’s annual stock-picking competition for financial professionals. “It’s one of the safe harbors to go to -- you can’t go wrong with a Canadian bank.”

The index surged 2.4 percent over the past two days, the biggest two-day gain since July 6-7, as Ireland said it is prepared to accept a bailout of its finances and Western Coal Corp. received a takeover offer from Walter Energy Corp.

The S&P/TSX Banks Index rose 1.3 percent today to finish its biggest weekly gain in four months.

Earnings Season

The six largest banks are scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7. Analyst estimates for fourth-quarter S&P/TSX Banks Index profits have increased 6.9 percent over the past month, according to Bloomberg data.

Royal Bank advanced 1.9 percent to C$55.32 after UBS said it “is among the best positioned to grow organically and reduce costs.” Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth-biggest bank, increased 1.9 percent to C$60.33 after Brad Smith, an analyst at Stonecap Securities Inc., raised his 12-month price estimate on the stock to C$56 from C$53. Bank of Nova Scotia, the No. 3 lender by assets, climbed 1.2 percent to C$54.65.

Manulife fell for the first time this week, dropping 2.2 percent to C$15.35. In a presentation to investors, Chief Executive Officer Donald Guloien said he wasn’t providing a profit forecast for next year. He did say the insurer aims to earn C$4 billion ($3.93 billion) a year by 2015.

“They have a long way to go, and I would like to see them concentrate on what they’re going to do in the next six months to a year,” Mastracci said.

Cool Weather

Natural gas rose to an eight-day high on forecasts for below-normal temperatures in the eastern U.S.

EnCana gained for the first time in six days, advancing 2.8 percent to C$29.26. Talisman Energy Inc., an oil and gas producer with operations in North America, the North Sea and Indonesia, increased 2.4 percent to a 10-month high of C$20.22. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the country’s second-largest energy company by market value, climbed 1.3 percent to C$40.49.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. rose 2.1 percent to C$59.76 after Marvell Technology Group Ltd. reported earnings that topped the average analyst estimate. Marvell makes processors for BlackBerry devices.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., Canada’s largest drugmaker, retreated 1.6 percent to C$25.09 after increasing the size of a debt offering by 43 percent to $1 billion.

Cline Mining Corp., which is developing coal mine in the U.S. and Canada, soared 20 percent to C$3.14, the highest since at least 1989. The shares jumped 12 percent yesterday after the Western Coal takeover offer became public.

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