CANADA STOCKS-Energy sector leads TSX higher

Fri Mar 6, 2009 10:16am EST
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* TSX up 1.68 percent at 7,757.903,

* Energy sector up 3.6 percent, oil up at $45/barrel

(Adds details, quote)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 6 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose on Friday morning as oil and gas stocks got a boost from higher oil prices and after U.S. jobs data, while gloomy, showed job losses weren't as bad as the market feared.

The energy sector led the TSX higher, rising 3.6 percent as oil climbed to $45 a barrel [ID:nSP482596]. Key contributors to the market's rise included Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote), up 7.2 percent at C$43.43, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), which climbed 6.5 percent to C$27.90.

The index, which dropped 2.4 percent on Thursday, also got support from U.S. data that showed employers axed 651,000 jobs in February, pushing the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, its highest in 25 years. For more see [ID:nN05339652].

While the losses were big they weren't as bad as the market's worst expectations, said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management Inc.

"Jobs are absolutely critical at this point in the cycle because you can't make a mortgage payment if you don't have a job and you can't go out and spend on durable goods if you don't have a job," he said.   Continued...