Canadian Stocks Rise Amid Syria Concerns as Energy Gains

Canadian stocks rose, rebounding from the benchmark index’s biggest drop since June, as energy producers rallied on a surge in oil prices amid growing speculation of a U.S. military strike against Syria.

Niko Resources Ltd., an oil exploration company, gained 6.8 percent to lead advances among oil companies as crude touched a two-year high. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. rose 2.3 percent, reversing a 4.1 percent slide yesterday. BlackBerry Ltd. advanced 2.7 percent to propel technology stocks higher. New Gold Inc. tumbled 7.5 percent to lead producers of raw materials lower as gold fell from a three-month high.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Index rose 16.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,607.22 at 4 p.m. in Toronto, trimming an earlier gain of as much as 0.7 percent. Trading volume was 7.4 percent below the 30-day average.

“It’s all about Syria -- that’s the risk,” John Stephenson, senior vice president and portfolio manager who helps oversee about C$2.8 billion ($2.7 billion) at First Asset Investment Management Inc. in Toronto, said by phone. “Commodities are moving higher. It’s a scarcity argument that we are going to have another conflict in the Middle East. The market is up but very little and on very light volumes.”

The S&P/TSX dropped 1.3 percent yesterday, its steepest slide since June 24, amid concern the U.S. will take action against Syria. The U.S. and the U.K. today said they are prepared to make a military strike without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.

‘Appropriate’ Action

After Russia objected to a UN resolution offered by the U.K. authorizing steps to protect civilians, a State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. will take “appropriate” action without the international body’s approval. The U.S. and its NATO allies began presenting their justification for military action against Syria as they advanced plans for launching strikes and prepared evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people.

Crude surged as high as $112.24, the most since May 2011, as the tension over Syria escalated, increasing concern oil supplies will be disrupted. The rally helped commodities surge to the highest level since February. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index rose as much as 1.9 percent before retreating to a gain of 0.9 percent.

Half of the 10 main industries in the benchmark Canadian equity index advanced, led by a 1.7 percent rally among health-care companies. Valeant Pharmaceuticals rose 2.3 percent to C$102.60.

Energy Producers

Energy stocks contributed the most to the equity gauge’s climb, adding 1.2 percent on the spike in oil prices. Niko Resources jumped 6.8 percent to C$5.48 to lead the surge. Athabasca Oil Corp. climbed 3.8 percent to C$7.66.

Technology stocks advanced 1.1 percent as BlackBerry, the struggling smartphone maker, rose 2.7 percent to C$10.82.

The S&P/TSX Materials Index plunged 1.6 percent, the biggest loss as a group in the benchmark index. The drop erased an earlier advance of as much as 1.7 percent as gold, silver and copper prices retreated.

New Gold slumped 7.5 percent to C$7.15. Torex Gold Resources Inc. fell 6.4 percent to C$1.77.

Financial stocks retreated 0.2 percent for a third day of declines. Sun Life Financial Inc. led the drop, falling 1.3 percent to C$31.82.

National Bank of Canada gained 2.4 percent to C$81.14, as profit from trading and wealth management boosted earnings at the country’s sixth-largest lender.

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