CANADA STOCKS-Strong oil, metal prices boost TSX index

Fri May 1, 2009 5:28pm EDT
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* TSX index rises 172.13 points to 9,496.96

* Energy sector up 4 pct, leads rally

* Index falls 0.5 pct on week, ends 7-week streak of gains (Adds details and comments)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, May 1 (Reuters) - Hopes that an economic recovery could be on the way boosted Canadian energy and metals shares on Friday, driving Toronto's main stock index up nearly 2 percent.

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 TSX index'sheavily weighted 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.

The commodity price gains helped the resource-heavy TSX outdistance U.S. stock indexes that made only modest gains to to end the week.

"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 (commodities)," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung and Co Investment Counsel.   Continued...