UPDATE 2-Energy, materials push Toronto stocks higher

Fri May 2, 2008 4:29pm EDT
 
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

TORONTO May 2 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index powered more than 200 points higher on Friday, spurred on by resurgent resources and easing worries over the health of the U.S. economy.

Fertilizer company Agrium Inc. (AGU.TO: Quote) was the biggest net gainer as it was applauded by investors after it returned to profit in the first quarter. Agrium shot up C$4.40, or 5.5 percent, to C$84.00.

Energy and materials companies helped fuel the surge as they benefited from a rebound in commodity prices. In the oil and gas sector, Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) rose C$3.05, or 2.8 percent, to C$113.65, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) was up C$2.53, or 3 percent, at C$87.27. Overall, the group put on 2.1 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 214.47 points, or 1.52 percent, at 14,280.28 in an across-the-board rally.

The materials sector, which houses resource shares, added 2.2 percent, helped by Agrium's advance, as well as that of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote), which rose C$4.26, or 2.3 percent, to C$190.81.

The gold producers subindex gained 1.5 percent, with Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO: Quote) up C$1.43, or 2.3 percent, at C$63.88, while Centerra Gold (CG.TO: Quote) rose 58 Canadian cents, or 6.8 percent, to C$9.06.

Data that showed a smaller than expected decline in jobs in the United States for April calmed nerves over whether the U.S. might fall into a deep recession, and helped set a positive tone on the Toronto benchmark early in the day.

Shares of Nortel Networks NT.TO slid 20 Canadian cents, or 2.3 percent, to C$8.67, after it reported a bigger first-quarter loss amid a number of charges.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion RIM.TO gained C$3.70, or 2.8 percent, to C$134.34, and helped the tech sector edge up 0.3 percent. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)