CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2-1/2-year high on China data

Reuters

* TSX rises 86.16 points, or 0.62 percent, to 13,974.37 * All of the 10 main index sectors advance * Index up about 2.6 percent this year * Materials stocks benefit from higher commodity prices By John Tilak TORONTO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose sharply on Monday as positive economic data from China helped support advances in all of its major sectors, taking the benchmark to its highest in 2-1/2 years.

A slight increase in prices of commodities such as gold and silver also provided support and was a source of strength in the materials sector.

Investors were encouraged by data that showed China's economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013. The gain was flat from 2012 and above market expectations for a 7.6 percent expansion.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark S&P/TSX index, which has risen in nine of the last 10 sessions, is up about 2.6 percent this year.

After lagging the S&P 500 in 2013, the TSX has so far this year outperformed U.S. stock markets, which were closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

"From now on, you'll see the TSX performing with, or a little bit better than, the U.S. market," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management.

"We're getting back to a calmer, less jittery market," he added. "People are going to be more interested in long-term performance and what the fundamentals for stocks look like." The S&P/TSX composite index was up 86.16 points, or 0.62 percent, at 13,974.37, its highest level since mid 2011.

About 68 million shares had changed hands at midmorning, compared with an average daily volume of about 316 million shares in December, according to Thomson Reuters data and figures from market operator TMX Group.

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

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained 0.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, added 0.9 percent to C$72.48. Bank of Nova Scotia rose 0.8 percent to C$64.38.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, advanced 1.1 percent. Barrick Gold Corp jumped 2.3 percent to C$21.09, and diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd climbed 1.2 percent to C$29.01.

In corporate news, Australian uranium producer Paladin Energy Ltd agreed to sell a stake in its Namibia mine. The company's shares shot up 9.1 percent in Toronto, to 60 Canadian cents.

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