TSX extends rally on materials strength

Thu Jan 5, 2012 6:08pm EST
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose for a fifth-straight session on Thursday driven by materials issues, which climbed on higher bullion prices and unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs data that offset fears over Europe's banking sector.

A surge in U.S. private sector hiring helped reverse the market's early retreat as the ADP National Employment Report for December showed U.S. employers added 325,000 new workers, nearly double economists' predictions.

The heavily weighted materials sector helped pull up the broader TSX index, rising 0.8 percent, as the strengthening U.S. economic outlook increased optimism about increased demand for commodities.

Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) led the sector's gains, rising 1.2 percent to C$43.96. First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO: Quote) was up 4.4 percent to C$21.98, as copper prices pared losses with a late-day surge.

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), up 0.3 percent at C$48.86, also contributed to the index's rise as bullion recouped last week's losses, which briefly sent the precious metal into bear market territory.

"The U.S. economy is gaining some traction and some of these things that we've been worrying about for the last six months are starting to recede into the background," said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 10.93 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,237.40, its highest level in a month.

The string of five consecutive gaining sessions is the TSX's longest in six months, since a six-session streak from June 27 to July 5, 2011.   Continued...