TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index jumped the most in four weeks on Thursday as bullish trade data from China buoyed commodity prices, fueling a surge in shares of gold and other mining stocks.
The surprisingly strong Chinese numbers boosted investor sentiment in the resource-heavy Toronto market and helped the index move back into positive territory for the year after slipping into the red in the previous session.
Prices for badly beaten-down commodities found higher ground; gold, silver and copper jumped 1.9 percent, 1.6 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Gold-mining stocks shot up more than 7 percent, recording their biggest single-day gain in more than five weeks.
The market also brushed aside persisting concerns about the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans for its monetary stimulus program.
A rebound in China's exports and imports in July offered hope for its slowing economy, but an imminent recovery still looked unlikely.
"People have taken the glass half-full approach," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "This is further evidence that economic activity is stabilizing and the rate of decline has slowed."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 140.19 points, or 1.13 percent, at 12,552.92.
Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, climbed 5.9 percent, with gold producers leading the gains.
Shares of Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO and Potash Corp (POT.TO) also rose.
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ.TO) shot up 12.1 percent to C$5.10 after Rio Tinto (RIO.L) agreed to provide the company with $600 million in financing for its Oyu Tolgoi mining project in Mongolia.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, advanced 0.7 percent.
Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) was up 2.5 percent at C$33.80 after the insurer late Wednesday reported a surge in quarterly profit. But rival Manulife stumbled 1.4 percent to C$17.79 after its second-quarter earnings missed market estimates.
Telus slipped 1.6 percent to C$30.63 and BCE lost 1.5 percent to C$41.90 after results from the two telecoms providers disappointed investors. <ID:L1N0G90DS>
Canadian Tire Corp (CTCa.TO) jumped 7.1 percent to C$89.45 after the retailer said it would seek a financial partner for its C$4.4 billion credit card portfolio to reduce funding risks.
Canadian Natural gained 0.6 percent to C$31.80 after it unveiled its quarterly report.
Editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler