The Canadian stock market ended higher on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continued to defend the U.S. central bank's monetary stimulus, easing global financial markets' worries over an early retreat from the economic stimulus program.
Bernanke signaled to lawmakers that the central bank's easy money policies would remain in force. He reiterated his argument on Wednesday that the Fed's bond-buying program has helped the economy and the Federal Reserve will be keeping its alive for a while yet.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 71.95 points, or 0.57 percent, to 12,732.39, while the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index decreased 0.79 points, or 0.07 percent, to 1,131.12.
Further indications of a strengthening U.S. housing industry also helped to lift the market up. The U.S National Association of Realtors said a measure of the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January from December to the highest level in more than two and a half years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy.
Traders also kept an eye on the turmoil over the election results in Italy, Europe's third largest economy. They looked to Italy on its inconclusive election where voters reject parties supporting austerity measures to deal with the country's huge debt levels.
All of the eight sectors on the Toronto Stock Exchange's main index increased, led by industrial and energy sectors.
The energy sector rose almost one percent as the April crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 13 U.S. cents to 92.76 dollars a barrel. Canadian energy giant Suncor Energy grew 0.4 percent to 31.05 Canadian dollars per share.
The telecom sector was up 1.22 percent as Canada's third largest communication carrier Telus Corp. rose 2 percent to 70.62 Canadian dollars per share.
At closing, the Canadian dollar strengthened to 0.9772 U.S. dollar at 5 p.m. local time (2200 GMT), compared with 0.9746 U.S. dollar on Tuesday.