Banks, energy issues lift TSX to higher close

Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:45pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX finished higher for a third-straight session on Thursday as worries over European bank lending eased and U.S. economic data pointed to gradual economic improvements, sending financial and energy issues up sharply.

Financials were among the session's top performers, closing up 1.79 percent, on renewed confidence that the European Central Bank's cheap loans to euro zone banks would help ease funding strains.

"I think it was sort of delayed response yesterday to some of the ECB stuff," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "It takes some of the systemic risk in the European banking system off the table, at least in the short term. So I think that's probably helped a little bit."

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) was the index's top gainer, rising 3.85 percent to C$50.92, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) added 1.65 percent to C$74.61.

The Toronto Stock Index .GSPTSE closed up 122.95 points, or 1.05 percent, at 11,876.48, with nine of the 10 main sectors ending higher.

Energy issues also made big gains, closing 1.82 percent higher as oil prices rose on fears of supply disruptions from Iraq and Iran.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) closed up 2.92 percent at C$28.90, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) rose 2.83 percent to C$37.79 and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO: Quote) added 3.89 percent to C$33.07.

After starting the day in negative territory, materials issues rebounded to close up slightly. Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) led the gains, climbing 5.17 percent to C$43.51 as RBC Capital Markets boosted its rating on expectations that the fertilizer producer would outperform its peers.

But mining stocks weighed as lower gold prices weighed on the shares of the world's top gold producers. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was the TSX's biggest dragger, sliding 1.12 percent to C$46.95, while Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) was down 1.34 percent to C$45.48.   Continued...