* TSX posts triple-digit gains in 5 of last 6 sessions
* Index hits highest level since Nov. 11
* Financials lead, Royal Bank launches pref share issue
* Oil sector gains despite crude retreat, materials up (Updates figures, adds analyst comments, details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher for a sixth straight session on Tuesday buoyed by strength across its three biggest sectors -- financials, energy, and materials.
The three groups were heavily battered in the fourth quarter and have recently strung together large gains, helping the Toronto Stock Exchange hit its best level since Nov. 11.
The financial group shot up 3.6 percent as Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) became the third bank this week to launch a preferred share offering to bolster its capital ratios.
Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) was the biggest mover on the index for the second day in a row, rising 6 percent to C$24.11.
Overall, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 2.01 percent, or 186.58 points, at 9,472.09 -- marking its fifth day of triple-digit gains in the last six sessions.
“You’re seeing confidence return back into the market. You’re seeing an ability to shake off economic news that continues to be quite dismal,” said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“These gains are promising, but one still needs to be cautious.”
Eight of the index’s main 10 groups were higher, reflecting growing investor interest in noncommodity sectors as hopes for economic stimulus plans from Canada and other western governments supported sentiment.
The index shrugged off gloomy economic news from both sides of the border, including a record drop in Canadian producer prices in November and as U.S. housing, factories, services remained in slump. [ID:nN06422985]
After last year’s steep selloff on the TSX, sellers have reached an “exhaustion point”, said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Capital in Waterloo, Ontario.
“What you’re seeing is a little bit of a broadening out of the rally as we go through what were previously technical resistance levels.”
The materials group advanced 2.01 percent. Several base metal miners hit multi-month highs as stronger prices and improving expectations for steel demand helped revive hopes for a sustained rebound for the sector. [ID:nN06439202]
Copper miner Quadra QUA.TO rose 13.4 percent to C$4.15, while nickel miner Sherritt International (S.TO) added 11.5 percent to C$4.45.
Oil prices slipped below $49 a barrel as weak U.S. economic data triggered a bout of profit-taking, but the heavyweight energy sector still rose 1.66 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) gained 5.9 percent to C$29.02, but EnCana (ECA.TO), the biggest decliner on the index, was down 2.5 percent at C$60.86.
The telecoms group fell 1.54 percent, dragged lower by Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO), which fell almost 6 percent after it posted slumping iPhone sales and flat postpaid wireless subscriber growth in the fourth quarter. [ID:nN06421068]
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks gained on the increased likelihood of a government stimulus package, pushing up the Dow Jones industrial average 62.21 points, or 0.69 percent to 9,015.10. The Nasdaq composite index added 24.35 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,652.38.
$1=$1.18 Canadian Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson