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TSX edges higher on consumer issues

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Toronto's main stock index ended slightly higher Tuesday on the back of consumer and tech issues, but the gains were muted as cautious investors waited for more concrete signs of earnings growth.

 

With heavyweight financial and energy sectors recording only small gains, large individual stocks helped drive the market.

 

Research In Motion surged (RIM-T) after the BlackBerry maker demonstrated its PlayBook tablet computer at a conference in California. That pushed the TSX information technology sector up 0.69 percent.

 

Counterbalancing that was a sharp drop in shares of Rogers Communications (RCI.B-T), which fell sharply after the cable-TV and telecom company posted a 24 percent drop in profit.

 

Some profit-taking on Rogers likely contributed to the stock's fall, following its recent sharp gains, said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.

 

"The telcos have been one of the best performing sectors in 2010," he said.

 

All told, the S&P/TSX composite index ended the session up 21.10 points, or 0.17 percent, at 12,684.68, as eight of ten subgroups pushed higher.

 

After rising nearly 10 percent from late August, the index has largely traded sideways over the past two weeks. With third-quarter earnings season just getting under way, investors want to see signs of sustained corporate profitability before they decide whether to pile back in, said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

 

"The earnings that have come out so far have been pretty decent, but I think we need to see some more momentum before we can push the market higher," he said.

 

Tuesday's strongest group was consumer staples, which is normally considered a defensive sector, but may be gaining due to its modest performance this year compared with other industry groups, said Picardo. The group rose 1.26 percent.

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