Canadian Stocks Rise as Banks, Industrial Shares Gain on Data

Canadian stocks rose, clinching a third straight quarterly gain, as financial and industrial shares climbed amid a report showing the economy grew faster than forecast.

Niko Resources Ltd., an oil and natural gas explorer, jumped 9.8 percent amid plans to sell assets. Canadian National Railway Co. rose 2.1 percent, pacing gains in industrial companies, as rail traffic climbed in the week ended March 23. Lenders advanced as Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia paced gains in the biggest banks.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index rose 50.25 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,749.90. The gauge fell as much as 0.4 percent earlier in the day, as gold producers dropped after the metal’s price slumped. The S&P/TSX advanced 2.5 percent in the first three months of the year for a third straight quarterly gain. Trading volume was 11 percent below the 30-day average.

“The key thing is we have to be watching the economy,” Irwin Michael, fund manager with ABC Funds in Toronto, said in a phone interview today. His firm oversees about C$800 million ($787 million). “You get the housing market doing a little better, people are feeling a little better. Keep in mind today is the last day of the month and the last day of the quarter, so there’s probably some significant window dressing going on,” he said, referring to fund managers buying some of the best-performing stocks at the end of the quarter.

Canadian stock exchanges will be closed tomorrow for the Good Friday holiday.

Economic Data

Canada’s economic output increased 0.2 percent, following a 0.2 percent decline in December, Statistics Canada said today. The data suggest the economy may be picking up some speed after ending last year with the slowest growth since the recession.

Reports this week showing a 5.7 percent jump in durable goods orders and the biggest increase since 2006 for the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities were among the latest data points to fuel optimism in the U.S. economy. American gross domestic output rose at a 0.4 annual rate in the last three months of 2012, up from a 0.1 percent prior estimate, a report today showed.

Niko Resources jumped 9.8 percent to C$6.39, adding to a 10 percent gain yesterday after the oil and gas exploration company said it planned to sell some assets. Oil increased 0.7 percent to $97.23 a barrel in New York, the highest settlement since Feb. 14.

Banks, Railroads

Financial shares contributed most to the S&P/TSX’s gain, rising 0.6 percent as a group to pare their loss for the month to 0.6 percent. Eight of 10 industries in the broader index advanced.

Royal Bank rose 0.8 percent to C$61.20, capping a 2.2 percent quarterly advance for the nation’s largest lender. Toronto-Dominion gained 0.8 percent to C$84.58.

Canadian National Railway added 2.1 percent to C$102.10. Total originated rail traffic rose 0.7 percent last week from a year ago, data from the Association of American Railroads showed.

Raw-materials producers declined 0.5 percent as a group. Silver Wheaton Corp. slid 1.3 percent to C$31.80. Novagold Resources Inc. fell 4.9 percent to C$3.73 and Alacer Gold Corp. slipped 1.4 percent to C$4.10. Gold declined 0.7 percent to settle at $1,595.70 an ounce, capping a second-straight quarterly drop.

BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd., fell 0.4 percent to C$14.74, after rallying 6.8 percent earlier in the day. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company reported a surprise profit in the fourth quarter after embarking on a cost-cutting program last year, even as sales continued to trail projections.

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