By John Tilak
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday for an eighth straight session as gains in shares of Barrick Gold Corp and Goldcorp Inc helped overcome a wave of disappointing quarterly reports.
Investors also shrugged off data that showed a rise in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week. Separate figures showed U.S. retail sales fell in January, missing expectations, as cold weather had an impact.
Sharp declines in Teck Resources Ltd , Cenovus Energy Inc , Great-West Lifeco's and Bombardier Inc exerted downward pressure on the market.
In contrast, share advances in Barrick and Goldcorp, the world's two biggest gold miners, even though both reported quarterly losses, lifted broader sentiment.
The Toronto market hit a three-week high and ended the day within a point of a multi-year high.
"As we get closer to the 14,000 level, we should expect volatility to pick up and the market might meet some resistance," said Ben Jang, a portfolio manager who helps manage about C$2.5 billion in assets at Nicola Wealth Management. "With the pickup in volatility, investors should focus on good fundamental stories."
"The market hasn't distinguished value from growth," he added. "As valuations get stretched, the market will find stability in lower-multiple names."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed up 101.16 points, or 0.73 percent, at 14,001.65. The Canadian benchmark index has outperformed the S&P 500 <.SPX> so far this year.
"As global growth picks up, Canada should benefit," Jang said. "Net-net, there should be inflows into the Canadian market because of that."
Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Thursday.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, climbed 0.8 percent, with gains in banks offsetting weakness in some insurers. Royal Bank of Canada advanced 0.9 percent to C$71.20.
Great-West Lifeco's fourth-quarter profit more than doubled due in part to a litigation recovery of C$226 million. Shares of the country's second-largest life insurer gave back 3.3 percent to C$30.85.
Larger rival Manulife reported a 20 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, but that was short of estimates. The stock was little changed.
Cenovus Energy's quarterly operating profit missed market expectations as production at its Foster Creek oil sands project in northern Alberta dropped 11 percent. The stock slipped 2.9 percent to C$28.77.
Teck shed 6.7 percent to C$26 after the diversified miner reported a lower quarterly operating profit.
Plane and train maker Bombardier posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit due to a fall in gross margins and forecast a slowdown in revenue growth at its rail unit this year. Shares tumbled 8.9 percent to C$3.68.
One of the big gainers in Toronto was Verde Potash PLC , which soared for a second straight day ahead of an announcement next week on Brazilian government funding for agriculture-related projects. Shares of Verde, which is developing a potash mine in Brazil, jumped 13 percent to 61 Canadian cents, following a 52 percent rise the previous session.
(Additional reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Peter Galloway and Nick Zieminski)