CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits two-week high as Fed after-effect fuels gains

Reuters

* TSX rises 15.66 points, or 0.12 percent, to 13,350.39 * Five of 10 main index sectors advance * Enbridge in focus ahead of decision on pipeline By John Tilak TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index climbed on Thursday to its highest in two weeks after a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to trim its monetary stimulus program helped push up the financial and energy sectors.

However, a selloff in bullion dragged the commodity price to a six-month low and triggered a decline in gold-mining shares.

Investors bracing for a selloff after the Fed statement on Wednesday were pleasantly surprised by the market reaction. Global equity markets rallied after the news, and Toronto stocks recorded a 1.2 percent jump in Wednesday's session.

"A lot of people were sitting with their finger on the trigger, ready to buy into a market decline, but there were no sellers," said David Cockfield, a portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management, who said the market's response suggested that tapering was already factored into prices.

Investors were encouraged by the fact that increasing strength in the world's biggest economy and greater confidence in the recovery led to the Fed decision.

The U.S. central bank cut the pace of its monthly asset purchases and suggested its key interest rate would stay low longer than previously promised.

"The black clouds on the horizon, which were the political debt ceiling and when tapering arrives, have all gone by," said Cockfield. "It's hard to find some reason to be overly pessimistic here." "The risk element has gone out of the market," he added. "It's a more settled and benign environment for equities." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 15.66 points, or 0.12 percent, at 13,350.39, after reaching 13,369.75, its highest since Dec. 3.

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

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, climbed 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, rose 0.5 percent to C$70.20, having the biggest positive influence on market. Manulife Financial Corp gained 0.7 percent to C$20.38.

Higher oil prices helped support shares of energy producers. Suncor Energy Inc climbed 0.6 percent to C$36.60.

Gold-mining shares dropped about 2 percent, reflecting a 3.2 percent decline in bullion prices.

Goldcorp Inc shed 2 percent to C$22.14, and Barrick Gold Corp gave back 0.9 percent to C$17.92.

Investors also focused on Enbridge Inc, as Canada's largest pipeline company is expected to find out on Thursday whether regulators will recommend approval of its proposed C$6 billion ($5.7 billion) Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

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