TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX finished higher after a volatile session on Monday led by surging gold issues, as bullion prices gained on renewed concerns about the European debt crisis.
After Greek political unrest held the market’s attention last week, investor focus switched to Italy, where speculation that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government was on the verge of collapse sparked fears the euro zone debt crisis could overwhelm the region’s third largest economy.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s subindex of gold producers .SPTTGD, which often climbs on investor uncertainty, hit its highest point since September 22.
“Given the weight of the TSX gold sector, which is roughly 13 percent, it’s going to have a positive net effect for the broader index,” said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director of institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets.
The move by gold miners helped lift the broader materials sector, which rose 1.6 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 53.73 points, or 0.43 percent, at 12,461.98, after touching a monthly high of 12,485.20.
The turmoil in Italy, one of Europe’s biggest economies, extended the European debt malaise that has embraced the region and global markets for weeks.
“The volatility has been unbelievable since the beginning of July and it certainly looks like it wants to continue,” said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities.
Six of the TSX’s main sectors finished higher, with financial stocks ending flat.
While Canadian banks have little direct exposure to European debt, there is concern they could get swept up in a widening economic crisis.
Energy issues rode rising oil prices, which were boosted by elevated concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and recent North Sea production disruptions. U.S. crude closed above $95 per barrel, its highest price since August.
In individual company news, Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) fell more than 6 percent to C$20.35 after the uranium producer’s third-quarter operating profit fell short of expectations.
Editing by Rob Wilson