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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose sharply for a second day on Thursday, marking its biggest gain in nearly two months, as investors were encouraged by strength in U.S. economic data and signs that European officials were tackling the euro zone debt crisis.
All 10 index sectors were stronger, with powerhouse financials up 2 percent, energy up 3.6 percent and materials 4.3 percent higher.
Among the most heavily weighted advancers, Suncor Energy jumped 4.3 percent to C$28.69, Royal Bank of Canada rose 2.8 percent to C$47.96, and Potash Corp added 3.9 percent to C$48.36.
"The market is trading on a much firmer footing on hopes European policy players are merging toward bank recapitalization," said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics.
The European Central Bank threw another lifeline to struggling European banks through the purchase of covered bonds and with a renewed offer of longer-term loans to ward off a new credit crunch.
Also boosting sentiment, the Bank of England launched a second round of quantitative easing to defend Britain's faltering economy against the euro zone debt crisis.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 322.85 points, or 2.82 percent, at 11,780.07.
"The bounce this week has helped improve the technical backdrop as well," Smith said. Earlier in the week, the TSX hit a 23-month low.
Among the top gainers, Canadian miner Ivanhoe Mines surged 13.1 percent to C$17.57 on news that its massive copper-gold project in Mongolia will go ahead without giving the Mongolian government a bigger stake.
On the data front, new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly less than expected last week, hinting at an improved labor market a day before closely watched Canadian and U.S. employment data for September on Friday.
"Some of the data we've seen over the past few days haven't really been that bad ... so not really as dire as the action we've seen in equity markets over the last few weeks," said Robert Kavcic, economist at BMO Capital Markets.
"There's a little bit of relief, some of the numbers have been holding in OK. Tomorrow is obviously the big one the market is waiting for, the U.S. jobs report."