Canadian Stocks Rise as Commodity Shares Gain on Growth Outlook

Canadian stocks rose, extending a sixth straight monthly gain, as commodity and materials producers gained on speculation global economic growth will accelerate next year.

Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest producer, gained 2 percent and Silver Wheaton Corp. advanced 3.8 percent. Potash Corp., the biggest fertilizer producer by market value, climbed 4.5 percent. Research In Motion Ltd. fell 1.2 percent after an analyst said it may have to re-engineer its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer to improve battery life.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index increased 66.01 points, or 0.5 percent, to 13,449.17 as of 4:15 p.m. in Toronto in the first trading session since Dec. 24. It has gained 3.8 percent since Nov. 30 and 19 percent since June 30.

“We will drift higher as sentiment improves around the world,” said Greg Eckel, a money manager at Morgan Meighen & Associates Ltd. in Toronto, which oversees about C$900 million ($900 million). “We are setting ourselves up for a good near-term scenario if China gets its economic growth under control, and the U.S. economy is shaking off its doldrums.”

The stock index has rallied 15 percent in 2010, outgaining the S&P 500, which is up 13 percent, for a seventh straight year. The S&P/TSX is posting its biggest December advance since 2005.

Record Highs

Barrick Gold climbed 2 percent to C$53.13 as the price of the metal rose for the third straight day in New York on mounting European-debt concerns, spurring demand for a haven. Gold futures reached a record $1,432.50 an ounce on Dec. 7 amid mounting concern about the fiscal health of countries including Ireland and Spain. Bullion priced in euros and British pounds climbed to all-time highs today.

Silver Wheaton climbed 3.8 percent to C$38.63.

Reports from the U.S. tomorrow may provide more evidence about the strength of the economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. may report that businesses in the U.S. expanded in December for a 15th consecutive month, while pending sales of previously owned homes probably rose 2 percent in November from the prior month, according to Bloomberg surveys of economists.

Potash rallied 4.5 percent C$152.56 as materials producers gained 2.1 percent as a group, the most among 10 industries in the S&P/TSX Composite Index. Agrium Inc., the fertilizer maker based in Calgary, surged 4.3 percent to C$90.22.

Research In Motion fell 1.2 percent to C$58.15. Developers who are designing applications for the PlayBook said the device has a battery life of two to four hours, compared with as long as 10 hours for Apple Inc.’s iPad, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in an interview.

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