CANADA STOCKS-TSX edges higher as investors eye Fed meeting

Reuters

* TSX rises 19.17 points, or 0.15 percent, to 13,203.52 * Nine of 10 main index sectors advance * Athabasca stumbles after releasing 2014 spending plans By John Tilak TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged higher on Tuesday, with gains in financials offsetting weakness in gold miners, as investors wondered whether the U.S. Federal Reserve would announce a reduction in its bond buying program at a policy meeting.

Fed officials meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the state of the world's biggest economy and determine whether it is strong enough to warrant the rollback in monetary stimulus.

"It's a coin toss. Nobody really knows what's going to come out of the Fed meeting," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada. "It's one of those things that could really go either way." "We're so dependent on the U.S. economy and U.S. money flow that just as U.S. traders have sitting on their hands, so are Canadians," he added.

A trimming in the U.S. central bank's asset purchases is expected to weigh on North American equities, at least in the near term, given interest rates are likely to rise in such a scenario, possibly drawing some investors out of stocks and into interest-rate related markets.

On Tuesday, the Toronto equities market advanced for a third straight session, recovering partly from a sharp selloff last week when a stream of upbeat U.S. economic data suggested that the Fed might have more reasons to begin paring its bond purchases.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 19.17 points, or 0.15 percent, at 13,203.52.

Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

The financial sector recorded some gains, rising 0.3 percent. Toronto Dominion Bank advanced 0.4 percent to C$96.01, and Bank of Nova Scotia added 0.4 percent to C$63.63.

With the price of bullion dropping 1 percent, shares of gold miners gave back 0.5 percent. Goldcorp Inc lost 0.9 percent to C$22.46.

In corporate news, Saputo Inc raised its bid for Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Holdings Co , aiming to knock out its rivals with a final sweetened offer. Saputo's stock was little changed, trading at C$47.15.

Shares of Athabasca Oil Corp slipped 1.8 percent, to C$6.45, after the oil producer said it planned to spend 42 percent less in 2014 to develop its assets.

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