TSX hits highest close in nearly four months

Fri Feb 3, 2012 5:21pm EST
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks closed at their highest level in nearly four months on Friday, boosted by financial and energy issues as surprisingly healthy U.S. employment figures offset sluggish Canadian jobs data and uncertainty over a Greek debt deal.

U.S. job creation in January far outstripped analyst expectations, with the unemployment rate dropping to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent.

In addition, the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector unexpectedly accelerated to its highest level in nearly a year.

"We've had a stream of generally positive numbers and the rally is already looking pretty strong," said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy. "The market is wanting to believe these numbers are sustainable."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 23.80 points, or 0.2 percent at 12,577.28. It was the TSX's highest close since October 8 and capped the index's seventh straight weekly rise.

Seven of the TSX's 10 main sectors finished higher, led by financials, which climbed nearly 1 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) was the sector's biggest gainer, rising 1.4 percent to C$78.83.

Energy shares also benefited as oil prices climbed on hopes the rise in U.S. jobs would boost demand from the world's top consumer. <O/R> Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO: Quote) climbed 2.9 percent to C$38.80.

Toronto stocks are up more than 5 percent this year after ending 2011 down 11 percent. With central banks in the U.S. and Europe flooding markets with cheap liquidity, analysts are more bullish about the rally enduring.   Continued...

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>