* TSX rises 0.74 percent at 8,070.19
* Financials up 1.5 percent
* Energy issues climb 0.8 percent as crude rises (Adds details, quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose late Thursday morning as resource shares climbed in tandem with commodity prices and financials extended gains for a third session on hopes that the global banking crisis is easing.
Gold miners, boosted by higher bullion prices, were among the biggest contributors to the index's rise. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was up 4.7 percent at C$37.00, while Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 1.9 percent to C$36.69.
Energy issues rose 0.8 percent as oil climbed back above $43 a barrel after sliding in the previous session. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) rose 1.3 percent to C$45.46.
Financials were up 1.6 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) ahead 1.6 percent at C$34.10, on optimism that the worst is over for the beleaguered banking sector.
Jennifer Radman, vice president and portfolio manager at Caldwell Investment Management Ltd, sees "a confidence game" being played out in the markets.
"My sense is that people are getting the feeling we're getting close to the worst and financials are typically the industry that leads the market after a sharp decline," she said.
At 11:29 a.m. (1529 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 59.17 points, or 0.74 percent, at 8,070.19. Seven of the index's 10 main groups were higher.
Investor sentiment got a extra boost from U.S. data that showed retail sales fell less than expected last month, suggesting that consumer spending was stabilizing. [ID:nN12352975]
"That's fairly positive," Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal, said of the retail sales data.
"It seems the consumers, the biggest part of the equation, are still spending. The bears will argue it is unsustainable but it shows there's still activity on that side."
Canadian financials may have benefited from strength in General Electric (GE.N), he said. GE's shares rose sharply after Standard & Poor's assigned the conglomerate a stable rating after stripping it of its triple-A credit rating. Investors had feared an even deeper cut. [ID:nN12349101]
"One would expect GE stock to sell off on (a rating cut), but it was actually so priced in that the stock is rallying," said Campeau.
Nortel Networks Corp NT.TO, one of the world's largest makers of telecom gear, dropped 1.5 Canadian cents to 8.5 Canadian cents. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, is looking to break itself up by selling off major divisions, newspaper reports said. ($1=$1.29 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Frank McGurty)