BUSINESS

TSX climbs amid strong European growth data, hopes for Greek compromise

02/13/2015 08:19 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market advanced for a fifth straight session Friday amid data showing solid economic growth in Europe and an unexpectedly strong performance by Canadian manufacturers.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 36.29 points to 15,264.81, its highest close in almost five months.

"Who wants to go into the weekend in a sour mood, especially when it's Valentine‘s Day tomorrow?" said John Stephenson, president and CEO of Stephenson and Co. Capital Management.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.19 of a cent to 80.25 cents US as Canadian manufacturing sales rose 1.7 per cent in December. That was far higher than the 0.5 per cent reading that economists had expected.

New York indexes were positive despite slipping consumer confidence. The University of Michigan's consumer confidence index came in at 93.6 in February, lower than the 98.5 reading that economists expected.

The Dow Jones industrials was ahead 46.97 points at 18,019,35, the Nasdaq gained 36.23 points to 4,893.84 and the S&P 500 index was up 8.51 points at 2,096.99.

The German economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, much better than the 0.3 per cent increase that had been expected.

Overall economic output across the eurozone was 0.3 per cent higher in the quarter compared with the previous three months. That equated with an annualized growth rate of just 1.2 per cent, but still better than the 0.2 per cent increased anticipated by investors.

There was also optimism that Greece will come to an agreement with its eurozone creditors.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to allow government officials to start technical discussions with debt inspectors. The results will inform a meeting of the eurozone's finance ministers on Monday.

Tsipras says a "mutually acceptable" deal is possible while German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her country is ready to compromise.

"What would be acceptable to the Greek government, I think, is just a little bit of forgiveness," added Stephenson. "They need more money. They have to come to some sort of deal. But they want the terms to be a little less onerous."

The TSX found support from the energy sector, up 0.9 per cent as March crude advanced $1.57 to US$52.78 a barrel.

The base metals sector climbed 2.75 per cent while March copper was unchanged at US$2.60 a pound.

April bullion advanced $6.40 to US$1,227.10 an ounce and the gold sector rose about 0.15 per cent.

The financials sector also lifted the Toronto market, up 0.45 per cent.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP), which is trying to get approval for its stalled Keystone XL pipeline, reported comparable earnings at $511 million or 72 cents a share in its latest quarter, beating forecasts of 61 cents a share. TransCanada also upped its quarterly dividend eight per cent to 52 cents, but its shares shed early gains and fell $1.27 to $57.23.

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN) reported fourth-quarter net income plunged 35 per cent to $172 million or 54 cents per unit. Its units ticked three cents higher to $29.06 .

The TSX gained 181 points or 1.2 per cent this week, its fourth straight weekly gain.

It's a shortened trading week next week as the TSX is closed Monday because of Ontario's Family Day, while New York is shuttered for President's Day.