By John Tilak
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced on Tuesday as higher oil prices boosted energy producers and strong quarterly results fueled a jump in shares of Encana Corp .
Encana climbed 2 percent after the natural gas producer said its first-quarter operating profit more than doubled, helped by higher gas prices and liquids production.
Feeding into the market mix was economic data from the world's two biggest economies. U.S. retail sales barely rose in April and a gauge of consumer spending slipped.
In China, figures showed a widespread slowing of economic activity in April, with data from output to investment and consumption all missing market expectations, increasing calls for government policies to support growth.
Investors were encouraged, however, by comments from two Bundesbank sources, who indicated that the German central bank was prepared to support European Central Bank policy action to boost the economy.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark index was up for a second straight session, and has gained about 7.8 percent this year.
"It's a pretty mixed picture today," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a subsidiary of Richardson GMP. "It's a tug-of-war between some of the comments out of Europe versus the soft economic data in China."
"The TSX has had a pretty nice rally for the year, so it wouldn't surprise us to see it cool down a little bit," he added. "But the energy and materials sides of the market seem to be offering some good value here."
The S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed up 24.87 points, or 0.17 percent, at 14,679.81. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Shares of energy companies rose 0.7 percent. Suncor Energy Inc added 0.8 percent to C$43.15, and Talisman Energy Inc advanced 0.3 percent to C$11.63.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, climbed 0.2 percent, with Toronto-Dominion Bank gaining 0.3 percent to C$52.34.
In other corporate news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc said it will "improve" its $47 billion takeover offer for drugmaker Allergan Inc . Valeant shares were down 0.4 percent at C$141.40.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)
- Investment & Company Information