CANADA STOCKS-ECB hopes push Toronto stocks to one-month peak
* TSX up 182.38 points, or 1.6 pct, at 11,844.97 * Index hits highest level since July 5 * Mining, energy shares lead gains * Sentiment boosted by hopes of further ECB action By Jon Cook TORONTO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index hit a one-month high on Tuesday, led by energy and mining shares, buoyed by stronger crude and commodity prices and encouraged by a likely European Central Bank move to combat the region's sovereign debt crisis. Toronto stocks followed global markets, which have enjoyed a strong run so far this week on investor expectations the ECB will buy bonds to ease the pressure on Spain and Italy, albeit under strict conditions that have yet to be fully worked out. "Part of this rally is predicated on central banks doing the right thing," said Elvis Picardo, vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "Whether that comes to pass is extremely difficult to say." The sharp rise added momentum to a rally that began on Friday after positive U.S. payroll data fueled a broad commodities rally. Canadian exchanges were closed on Monday for a public holiday. Picardo said the next test would likely come with the release of Canadian jobs data on Friday. "It could really could go either way. If the numbers are really bad, perhaps we could see the local rally stall a little bit." At around 1:25 p.m. (1725 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 182.38 points, or 1.6 percent, at 11,844.97. At one point the index touched 11,855.10, its highest level since July 5. All of Canada's 10 main sectors were higher. The heavily-weighted energy group led gains, climbing as oil prices rallied on supply worries. The biggest gainers included Canadian Natural Resources , which rose 6.4 percent to C$29.75, Suncor Energy , which gained 1.9 percent to C$32.21 and Cenovus Energy , which jumped 4.4 percent to C$32.76. The influential materials group, which includes miners, jumped 2.6 percent as metal prices climbed. Leading the way were top gold producers Barrick Gold , up 3.1 percent at C$33.85, and Goldcorp Inc, which climbed 2.1 percent to C$36.84. First Quantum Minerals rose 3.8 percent to C$19.70 on news the Canadian miner has partnered with a Zambian company to develop a new copper mine in central Zambia, the company's director said on Monday. Meanwhile, the more serious tone from European central bankers helped reassure investors, though asset managers remained cautious. "It's taking the optimistic view that things are on the path to improvement," said Philip Petursson, director of the portfolio advisory group at Manulife Asset Management. "The leaders in Europe are being a little more serious about how they're treating the issues." Petursson, however, questioned whether the latest upswing was sustainable. "A lot of this rally has been bought on hope instead of fact," he said. "I'm not entirely convinced we're out of the woods." That was an opinion echoed by Picardo. "We are now on the verge of entering what is typically a very volatile stage in the markets," he said. Elsewhere, Air Canada, down 2.5 percent to C$1.15, said passenger levels for July fell slightly from a year earlier. Meantime, WestJet Airlines, off 0.06 percent at C$16.00, said it flew fuller planes in the month.
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