By Cameron French
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended higher on Monday with gains across most sectors as strong economic data buoyed hopes for a strong start to 2014, while smartphone maker BlackBerry built on momentum from last week.
With many market players already booked off for the holidays, trading volumes were lower than normal and most sectors showed only modest movement, with weakness centered in the gold-mining sector.
Canada's economy grew by 0.3 percent in October from September, Statistics Canada said, topping analysts' forecasts for a 0.2 percent advance, and boosting market hopes that the country might finally be shaking off the worst of the great recession.
"Economically I think 2014's going to be better than 2013 and that should be good for the stock markets," said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities in Toronto.
BlackBerry shares rose 3.1 percent to C$7.98, building on a 16 percent rally on Friday when the smartphone maker said it was entering a handset production deal with Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Co Ltd <2354.TW>.
BlackBerry helped drive the TSX's information technology subgroup up 0.63 percent. All told, eight of the benchmark index's 10 subgroups pushed higher.
The benchmark, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE>, unofficially closed up 48.10 points, or 0.36 percent, at 13,447.70.
A total of 223.5 million shares valued at C$2.95 billion changed hands during the session, down from November daily averages of 310.2 million shares valued at C$4.59 billion.
The Toronto exchange will close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Tuesday, and will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.
The heavily weighted financials subindex climbed 0.43 percent, boosted by asset manager IGM Financial , which rose 1.8 percent to C$56.18, and Bank of Nova Scotia , which gained 0.79 percent to C$65.26.
With just a few days left in the trading year, the TSX composite is up 7 percent year-to-date, underperforming U.S. indexes.
The materials sector, made up largely of mining companies, rose 0.06 percent, with weak gold-mining stocks offsetting stronger base metals producers and a 2 percent rise in fertilizer producer Potash Corp to C$34.45.
Kinross Gold fell 2.8 percent to C$4.56, while Barrick Gold slid 0.7 percent to C$17.72.
Among individual stocks, Reitmans Canada rose 9.0 percent to C$6.92 after Fairfax Financial said it had recently bought up 2 million shares, or 4 percent, of the clothing retailer, bringing its total holding to 13.8 percent.
(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Peter Galloway)