UPDATE 2-Banks, consumer issues lift Toronto stocks

Thu May 1, 2008 3:09pm EDT
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(Updates to midafternoon)

TORONTO May 1 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index bounced higher on Thursday afternoon, recovering from earlier losses as gains by banking and consumer issues overshadowed falling commodity prices.

Autoparts maker Magna International MGa.TO also supported the index, rising C$6.69, or 9 percent, to C$80.94 after it reported first-quarter profit that beat analyst expectations and upped its sales outlook for the year.

The consumer staples group put on 3 percent, as shares of Loblaw Cos L.TO advanced C$2.11, or 6.6 percent, to C$33.94 the day after it reported higher earnings. Shares of George Weston WN.TO, which has a majority ownership in Loblaw, gained C$2.90, or 6 percent, to C$51.40.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 109.64 points, or 0.79 percent, at 14,046.68 after hitting a session low of 13,846.57 in the morning.

The heavyweight financial sector pushed up 2.4 percent, as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO rose C$2.19, or 3 percent, to C$76.36, and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO gained C$2.04, or 3.1 percent, to C$68.15.

The energy and materials sectors were the only two of the index's 10 main groups to move lower, as resource companies were caught up in a selloff in commodities.

Imperial Oil IMO.TO fell C$1.71, or 2.9 percent, to C$57.71 after it posted a drop in first-quarter profit amid weak refining results and plant outages.

Overall, the oil and gas group gave up 1 percent, with Suncor Energy SU.TO down C$2.24, or 2 percent, at C$111.41 and Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO skidding C$1.37, or 1.6 percent, to C$84.18.

The subindex of gold producers slid 1.5 percent, with Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM.TO down 78 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, at C$62.47, and Barrick Gold ABX.TO off 78 Canadian cents, or 2 percent, to C$37.93. The larger materials group slid 0.9 percent. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)