CANADA STOCKS-TSX jumps 1 pct; ECB bond-buying boosts oil firms
* TSX up 125.15 points, or 1.04 percent, at 12,115.16 * ECB bond-buying helps index hit highest level since Aug 24 * Miners, oil and gas companies lead rise By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index jumped more than 1 percent on Thursday, buoyed by commodity stocks, after the European Central Bank launched a potentially unlimited bond-buying program in a bid to draw a line under the region's debt crisis. Signs that European growth could get back on track provided a fillip to Canada's deep lineup of mining and oil and gas companies, which are acutely sensitive to global demand. ECB President Mario Draghi sought to back up a July pledge to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro zone currency with the bond-buying plan, which he said would address bond market distortions and "unfounded" fears about the survival of the euro. "They've really had to pull out the big bazooka, which is in essence to say 'we stand by to buy unlimited quantities of sovereign bonds of distressed countries'," said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy in Toronto. At 12:25 a.m. (1625 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 130.30 points, or 1.1 percent, at 12,120.44, its highest level since Aug 24. All 10 major index sectors rose, led by the energy and materials groups. "It's clearly a positive for this market - the Toronto market is a risk-on market, a commodity-weighted market - because we will not be able to get clarity on commodities if Europe is mired in recession and political stalemate," said John Stephenson, senior vice-president at First Asset Investment Management Inc. Commodity prices were broadly higher, with oil and gold both notching gains. The oil price was also boosted by U.S. government data that showed stockpiles fell more sharply than expected last week. Also boosting market sentiment was U.S. employment data that showed private employers hired more workers than anticipated in August and that fewer people filed new claims for U.S. jobless benefits. "The jobs numbers were a bit better than anticipated, so there are signs of strengths," Graham said. Among oil and gas shares, Canadian Natural Resources jumped 4.5 percent to C$30.69 and Suncor Energy Inc gained 1.8 percent to C$31.91, accounting for the two biggest positive influences on the index. Shawcor Ltd rose 19.7 percent to C$41.97 after saying it was for sale. The energy services company is expected to attract interest from both strategic buyers and private equity players, given strong demand for its pipeline coating and other specialty businesses, which have dominant market positions. Major Drilling Group International Inc jumped 10.8 percent to C$10.12 after reporting record quarterly earnings and saying that demand remains strong. Encana Corp gained 2.2 percent to C$21.82 after the natural gas producer said an internal investigation determined it did not collude with Chesapeake Energy Corp to lower the price of land acquisitions in Michigan two years ago. Base metals miner Inmet Mining Corp gained 3.4 percent to C$45.66. It said it plans to expand its footprint in Panama with an offer to acquire Petaquilla Minerals Ltd for about C$112 million.
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