UPDATE 3-EnCana, RIM help Toronto stocks hit record high

Mon May 12, 2008 4:40pm EDT
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details, quotes)

TORONTO May 12 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index jumped to a record high on Monday, buoyed by EnCana's ECA.TO plan to split itself in two and the release of a new BlackBerry smartphone by Research in Motion RIM.TO.

EnCana, Canada's biggest energy company, jumped C$5.68, or 6.6 percent, to C$92.20 after it said on the weekend it will split into a natural gas company and integrated oil sands producer.

The news helped lift the oil and gas sector 2.2 percent, helping the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE surpass its lifetime high. The benchmark closed up 144.88 points, or 1 percent, at 14,666.07, after climbing as high as 14,695.75 earlier in the day.

Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Capital in Waterloo, Ontario, said EnCana's move could be copied by a number of significant energy companies, including Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO and Nexen NXY.TO.

"None of them is exactly the same as EnCana, but a number of them have contemplated a similar type scenario, and that bumps the probability that those companies will be looking at a similar type move," said Chandler.

Canadian Natural rose C$2.51, or 2.7 percent, to C$96.66, while Nexen edged up 30 Canadian cents, or 0.8 percent, at C$38.61.

Tech companies also boosted the benchmark, after RIM said it will launch its new high-end BlackBerry Bold, aimed at its core base of business users.

Shares of the tech heavyweight jumped C$8.90, or 6.7 percent, to C$142.25, while the technology group added 3.3 percent.

The Toronto benchmark set its previous record high of 14,646.82 last July. Since then, commodity prices have remained red-hot, but markets around the world have been rocked by massive writeoffs among financial companies and tight credit markets as a result of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. ($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)