UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks jump on record gold, oil prices

Wed Jan 2, 2008 4:45pm EST
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(Updates with official closing numbers, adds details, quote)

TORONTO Jan 2 (Reuters) - Record high gold and oil prices propelled the Toronto Stock Exchange's main index higher on Wednesday, as it rang in the new year with robust gains among resource shares.

The materials sector led the advance, rising 3.8 percent, while its gold subsector soared 7.5 percent as the price of gold touched a record $861.10 an ounce, helped by a weaker U.S. dollar and international political tensions.

Meanwhile, the heavyweight energy sector climbed 2.1 percent as oil briefly hit the highly anticipated $100 a barrel mark amid violence in oil-producer Nigeria and tight energy stockpiles. Crude eased to $99.62, but was still up $3.64.

Barrick Gold ABX.TO rose C$3.87, or 9.3 percent, to C$45.65, while Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO was up C$1.57, or 2.2 percent, at C$74.15.

"Clearly what we're seeing is a strong rally on the commodities side, which I think has offset what we might otherwise have seen as a weak day with weaker news coming out of the U.S.," said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 93.70 points, or 0.68 percent, at 13,926.76 in the first trading day of the year.

Despite the sharp advance, only four of the TSX's 10 main groups ended in positive territory.

The strong boost from commodity prices helped the resource-laden index overcome worries about a recession south of the border, as U.S. manufacturing data pointed to signs of a contraction.   Continued...