Toronto's main stock index edged higher on Wednesday morning, with financials leading the gains on upbeat U.S. economic data and company earnings, but held in check by retreating fertilizer issues.
Stronger March retail sales in the United States and forecast-beating results from U.S. bank JPMorgan and tech heavyweight Intel helped boost optimism about the economic recovery and pushed global equities higher.
The TSX financial index made hefty gains as Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, shot up 1.6 percent to C$60.45 and Toronto-Dominion Bank added 1.5 percent to C$75.70.
Financials are certainly reacting nicely to the JPMorgan numbers and a belief that the rest of the U.S. financials are healing and there will be some good sequential earnings going forward into 2011 as the economy recovers, said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
Gold and copper prices also rose, lifting the mining sector 0.7 percent, as a fresh dip by the U.S. dollar added to positive sentiment in the market.
Barrick Gold Corp, the world's biggest gold producer, was little changed at C$40.39, while Teck Resources, Canada's biggest base metal producer, gained 0.7 percent to C$45.26.
At 10:56 a.m. (1445 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 30.72 points, or 0.25 percent, at 12,132.24. Six of its 10 main sectors were lower.
Shares of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, and other fertilizer producers held back the index's rise, dragging it briefly into negative territory earlier in the session.
Potash Corp the world's biggest producer of the crop nutrient, dropped 3.3 percent to C$108.60 after reports North American producers were having a tough time getting a proposed $30 per ton price increase in the U.S. to stick.
In addition, Potash Corp and U.S. rival Mosaic Co were downgraded by Goldman Sachs. Fertilizer producer and farm products retailer Agrium Inc fell 4.8 percent to C$64.11.
There seems to be a wheat surplus and good wheat harvesting season in Australia. That doesn't bode well for commodity prices and application of potash for farmers for 2010, said Schwartz. That's holding back the Canadian market.
The energy sector, up 0.3 percent, reversed earlier losses after U.S. government oil inventory data showed crude oil stocks fell last week, against expectations for a build.
Shares of Suncor Energy Inc, Canada's largest oil company, jumped more than 1 percent to C$35.18, while Canadian Natural Resources edged 0.8 percent higher to C$78.77.
(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson)