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TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX finished higher on Thursday, supported by firmness in commodity-linked shares and a surge in Open Text OTC.TO after the business software company posted a big jump in quarterly profit.
Open Text rose 14.6 percent to C$60.34 and was a leading contributor to the index's rise after posting a 28 percent jump in quarterly profit on Wednesday on solid demand from services, technology and financial customers.
The index's information technology group, of which Open Text is a component, rose 3.7 percent.
Also on the upside was Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world's biggest gold miner, which rose 0.9 percent to C$49.72, and helped the index's materials sector up nearly 1 percent.
Gold prices rose to a two-month high on Thursday on a larger-than-expected fall in new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits.
Energy shares climbed 0.6 percent, with Encana Corp (ECA.TO) up 5.3 percent at C$19.87, as most U.S. natural gas prices rose on Thursday.
Trade was in a relatively narrow range, however, after the index rose 4.2 percent in January and with investors unwilling to make big bets ahead of the U.S. and Canadian employment reports for January on Friday.
"I think most markets are treading sideways ahead of the U.S. jobs report tomorrow," said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics.
Any developments around the Greek debt talks could also significantly influence the market, he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 35.82 points, or 0.29 percent, at 12,553.48. Six of its 10 sectors were higher.
"Your catalyst is going to be expectations about the U.S. jobs numbers," said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse. "If they are reasonably positive, that's going to continue the trend of relatively strong U.S. economic data, which means you've got continued fairly firm demand for commodities, which will keep the prices relatively high.
"That's really the central data point here over the next 24 hours."
Data on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected in the latest period, boosting optimism about Friday's January payrolls report.
Economists have forecast U.S. 150,000 jobs were added in January, a decline from the previous month, which benefited from holiday hiring.
In Canada, the median forecast is for the economy to have generated 23,100 net new jobs in January, up from 21,700 in December. The jobless rate is seen remaining at 7.5 percent.
On the downside, financials shed half a percent with Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) dropping 0.9 percent after it announced plans the day before to raise C$1.5 billion in a public share offering to boost its capital level and pay for previously announced acquisitions.
"expectation other banks will follow," Smith said.
Reporting By Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Peter Galloway