CANADA STOCKS-Strong oil, metal prices boost TSX index

Fri May 1, 2009 4:53pm EDT
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* TSX index rises 172.13 points to 9,496.96

* Energy sector up 4 pct, leads rally

* Falls 0.5 pct on week, ends 7-week gain (Adds details and comments)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, May 1 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose nearly 2 percent on Friday as economic optimism boosted prices for oil and base metals, driving energy and mining issues higher.

For the week, however, the index slipped 0.5 percent, ending a seven-week run of weekly gains.

A survey showing U.S. consumers felt more confident about the U.S. economy in April than at any time since last September [ID:nN01402214] helped drive U.S. crude futures to a four-week high above $53 a barrel, which in turn drove the heavily weighted TSX energy sector up 3.99 percent.

Materials stocks climbed 2.16 percent, as the consumer confidence survey, combined with data showing a less severe contraction in the U.S. manufacturing sector, pushed copper prices to a two-week high and also boosted zinc prices.

"It's the expectation that if the economy is a little bit more stabilized then there may in fact be a little bit of a pickup in manufacturing activity, which will draw on the need for commodity stocks," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.   Continued...