CANADA STOCKS-TSX marks 4th day of big gains
* TSX gains 1.19 percent to 11,484.51
* Higher commodity prices help power rally
* Improved sentiment on global economy helps (Updates to close)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index sailed to its fourth day of triple-digit gains on Thursday as firm commodity prices and fresh signs of a global economic recovery fueled key energy shares.
Top movers that helped the index hit a two-week high were mostly from the oil and gas group, led by EnCana Corp (ECA.TO: Quote), up 3.49 percent to C$63.10. Canadian Natural Resources <CNQ.TO rose 3.1 percent to C$72.89, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) climbed 2.64 percent to C$37.71.
TSX's heavy weighting in resource issues benefited from record high gold prices, a weaker U.S. dollar and a jump in oil prices above $71 a barrel. [GOL/] [FRX/] [O/R]
In addition, a surprise profit posted by aluminum producer Alcoa Inc [ID:nN07320124], followed by a slate of positive economic news, cheered investors.
"The U.S. dollar weakness was rather significant. That, and the Alcoa announcement, caused all the commodities to take off," said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd in Calgary.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 134.63 points, or 1.19 percent, to 11,484.51. Eight of its 10 sectors climbed. Over the past four days, the index has gained 4.8 percent.
Gold-mining shares were mixed as some investors booked profits on big names that have rallied strongly this week as gold prices have advanced above $1,060 per ounce.
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was a key driver of the index early in the day, but ended off 0.29 percent at C$41.65. Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) also eased, down 0.25 percent at C$44.60.
But Yamana Gold (YRI.TO: Quote) gained 5.31 percent to C$12.88 as several brokerages raised their share-price targets for the gold miner the day after it announced a quarterly production rise. [ID:nN06440203] [RCH/CA]
Teck Resources TCKb.TO rose 6.9 percent to C$32.41, the most notable non-gold riser in the index's materials group.
"It's a continued overall play on the U.S. dollar and the recovery in the global economy," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
"People just want to sell the U.S. dollar and buy other currencies, especially the commodity currencies such as Canada and also to buy commodities and commodity-related equities."
The same commodities driving equity markets in turn helped the Canadian dollar zoom to a one-year high against the U.S. currency. [CAD/]
Financial stocks were unable to hold early gains. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) led all heavyweight decliners, dropping 0.7 percent to C$47.33, while Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) lost 0.4 percent to C$56.08.
"Today is really a commodity story so there may be some rotation going out of the financials and into the commodities again," Kerkovius said.
In economic news, new weekly jobless claims in the United States dropped to a nine-month low, while U.S. retailers had their first monthly sales gain since August 2008. A separate report showed inventories at U.S. wholesalers fell for the 12th consecutive month in August. [ID:nN08520274]
Other encouraging data included Canadian housing starts, which fell 4.6 percent in September from August but still came in ahead of expectations. [ID:nN08392997]
Markets are now awaiting Friday's September jobs data, with the report expected to show the Canadian economy created 5,000 jobs. [ID:nN07480164]
Active issues on Thursday included HudBay Minerals(HBM.TO: Quote), which hit a 16-month high after it said it would put development of its Lalor gold-zinc deposit in Manitoba on a fast track, and that exploration successes at the site suggested the beginning of a much bigger find. HudBay closed up 6.6 percent at C$14.60.
($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Peter Galloway)
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