CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises as strong commodities lift resource shares
* TSX up 103.85 points at 12,465.66 * All 10 of index's main sectors higher * Air Canada in spotlight as wildcat strikers back to work By Jennifer Kwan TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed higher on Friday, led by its materials, financial and energy sectors, with stronger oil and metal prices lifting natural resource companies. A mix of names led the market higher including Barrick Gold , which climbed 1.7 percent to C$43.80, and Goldcorp , higher by 2 percent to C$44.60, as the price of bullion staged its biggest one-day gain in a month as strong oil prices and a sliding greenback triggered short-covering after a sell-off earlier in the week. [ GOL/] Silver Wheaton soared 5.3 percent to C$33.66 after the Vancouver-based company reported on Thursday a sharp rise in profit, helped by increased selling prices of silver and gold. Suncor Energy gained 1 percent to C$32.80 and Imperial Oil rose 2.6 percent to C$45.44 as the price of oil climbed on supply concerns. As well, analysts and traders said an uptick had occurred across the commodities complex after Thursday's disappointing Chinese manufacturing data and the euro zone PMI figures. "Yesterday you saw a pretty sharp sell-off coming in based on fears that growth in China is slowing. I think you saw a little bit of a recovery off that today," said Julie Brough, vice president at Morgan Meighen & Associates. "I think there's still a little bit of a bias toward the upside in the market," she added. "People still believe there's economic growth. We are getting consistently good numbers from the U.S. and that's offsetting concerns about China slowing." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished the day up 103.85 points, or 0.84 percent, to 12,465.66, with all of its 10 main sectors higher. The index was down 0.3 percent, its fourth weekly drop in a row. Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy, said higher Canadian inflation numbers were also supportive for resource shares. Higher gasoline and food prices pushed up Canada's annual inflation rate a notch in February. Annual inflation hit 2.6 percent in the month, up from 2.5 percent in January but slightly below the 2.7 percent rate forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll, according to Statistics Canada data on Friday. "Given the resource orientation of the Canadian market, it is a beneficiary of higher prices as long as those higher prices do actually have the ability to pass through and they're not getting their margins squeezed," said Graham. Toronto followed a global trend that saw the euro rise and world stocks rebound, lifted by shares in energy and basic materials, as concerns about global growth were set aside by investors who see further gains in this year's rally. Air Canada, unchanged at 82 Canadian cents, was in the spotlight. Wildcat strikes that disrupted dozens of Air Canada flights ended on Friday when ground crews at airports in Toronto and Montreal returned to work, their union said. It was the latest reminder of the airline's tense labor relations. Oil and gas producer Pengrowth Energy Corp, down 1.7 percent at C$9.78, will buy NAL Energy Corp for about C$1.30 billion in stock to boost its light oil properties in western Canada. NAL was among the most heavily-traded issues on the market and finished the day up nearly 6 percent at C$8.26.
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