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TSX Extends Gains On US Budget Talks - Canadian Commentary


Canadian stocks were extending gains for a second session Wednesday morning on hopes that U.S. policy makers will reach a deal in time to avert the fiscal cliff. Investor sentiment got a boost after ratings agency Standard and Poor's upgraded Greece's credit rating from 'selective default', citing the successful completion of the country's debt buyback program and the strong determination of member states to preserve Greek membership in the euro zone.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 73.95 points or 0.60 percent to 12,408.30, after adding just over 50 points in the previous session

The Diversified Materials Index surged over 2 percent, with First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) surging over 4 percent. Inmet Mining (IMN.TO) and Teck Resources (TCK_B.TO) rose over 1 percent each.

Latest data from the EIA revealed that US crude oil inventories dipped 1.00 million barrels, while gasoline stocks were up 2.20 million barrels in the weekended December 14. Analysts expected 2.3 million decline in crude oil supplies, while gasoline stocks are seen adding 2 million barrels last week.

Crude for February delivery, the most actively traded contract, added $1.40 to $89.80 a barrel

In the oil patch, oil and gas company Perpetual Energy (PMT.TO) gained close to 5 percent after it said it would divest its Elmworth, Alberta property for about $155 million.

Nexen Inc. (NXY.TO) and Niko Resources (NKO.TO) added about 0.50 percent each.

Financial stocks were trading firm, with TD Bank (TD.TO), Royal Bank (RY.TO), CIBC (CM.TO) and Scotiabank (BNS.TO) gaining around 1 percent each.

Integrated tour operator Transat A.T. Inc. (TRZ_A.TO) jumped 6 percent after reporting fourth-quarter profit of C$16.61 million compared to a loss of C$7.27 million last year. Profit per share was C$0.43 for the quarter compared to a loss of C$0.19 prior year.

Meanwhile, gold stocks are moving lower amid weak bullion prices. The price of gold was lingering near its four-month low Wednesday morning even as the US dollar was extending losses amid the housing starts report. Gold for February edged up $3.50 to $1,674.20 an ounce.

Among gold plays, Seabridge Gold (SEA.TO) shed nearly 2 percent. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) and Royal Gold (RGL.TO) down around 1 percent each.

Contract drilling and work-over services provider Tuscany International Drilling (TID.TO) said it appointed Kiel Clark as its Chief Operating Officer. The stock was down 2 percent.

In economic news Statistics Canada said wholesale sales advanced 0.9 percent to $49.2 billion in October, following a decline of 1.5 percent the previous month. Higher sales were reported in six of seven sub-sectors, representing 87 percent of wholesale sales.

From the U.S., a report from the Commerce Department revealed that housing starts fell 3.0 percent to an annual rate of 861,000 in November from the revised October estimate of 888,000. Economists had expected housing starts to fall to 865,000 from the 894,000 originally reported for the previous month. Meanwhile, building permits rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 899,000 in November from the revised October rate of 868,000. Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to climb to 875,000 from the 866,000 originally reported for October.

From the euro zone, Germany's business confidence improved more than expected in December, survey results from the Ifo Institute revealed. The headline business climate index rose to 102.4. The reading was forecast to climb to 102 from 101.4 in November.

Euro zone's current account surplus increased in October, but was lower than expected by economists, a report from the European Central Bank showed The seasonally adjusted current account surplus rose to EUR 3.9 billion in October from EUR 2.4 billion in September. Economists expected the surplus to rise to EUR 6.5 billion.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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