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article imageThirteen unlucky for TSX as win streak ends at 12 days

    Feb 21, 2014 in Business

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index hit its highest in nearly three years on Friday, advancing for a 13th straight session as bullish U.S. economic data helped drive gains in the energy and materials sectors.

Data released on Thursday showed U.S. manufacturing activity picked up the pace in February, recording its fastest growth in nearly four years.

The index also got a lift from fertilizer maker Agrium Inc <AGU.TO>, whose shares jumped a day after the company reported quarterly results.

The rally on the Toronto Stock Exchange has been fueled by a jump in materials shares, which have rebounded sharply after a major selloff last year. The market's benchmark index looked set to record its third consecutive weekly gain.

"The economies are doing well, sentiment is reasonably positive, valuations are pretty good," said Rick Hutcheon, chief investment officer at RKH Financial, who also cautioned of a possible market pullback.

"We're getting a little overbought. I wouldn't be surprised if the market paused here a little bit," he said.

The benchmark S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> was up 26.34 points, or 0.19 percent, at 14,236.71. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, rose 0.6 percent. In the group, Agrium rose 2.3 percent to C$101. The company reported a 72 percent decline in quarterly profit on Thursday, but its results were in line with market expectations.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd <FM.TO> lost 1.1 percent, to C$21.35, after the miner reported a lower quarterly profit on Thursday due to weaker metals prices.

Energy shares advanced despite weaker oil prices. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd <CNQ.TO> was up 0.9 percent at C$41.27.

(Additional reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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