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(Refiles to fix typo in second paragraph)
* TSX ends up, breaks two-day of declines
* Financials off 0.8 percent as Manulife hits (Adds details, quote)
TORONTO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose on Thursday, struggling up from a 1.7 percent drop earlier in the day, boosted partly by strength in the resource-laden materials sector.
The bulk of the rally came in the last half hour of the trading day and, analysts said, was likely due to news south of the border that the Obama administration was working on a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners. [ID:nN12553515]
"The late surge in the TSX is directly attributable to the late surge in U.S. stocks," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
"The housing situation in the U.S. is at the epicenter of this mess so any direct relief would be positive for the markets."
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 40.89 points, or 0.47 percent, at 8,778.78, with seven of its 10 main groups higher. The higher close breaks a two-day streak in negative territory.
The materials sector rose 1.3 percent, helped higher by rising gold, while the telecom sector also provided support, up 2.6 percent.
Among heavily-weighted stocks on the upside were Research in Motion RIM.TO, up 5.1 percent at C$63.05, and Telus Corp (T.TO), up 4.6 percent at C$35.04. Barrick Gold rose 1.3 percent to C$48.53.
It was a see-saw session for the index, with the index dropping as low as 1.7 percent at one point and hovering in negative territory for most of the day.
Financials trimmed losses but still ended down 0.8 percent, while the energy sector was down 0.2 percent.
Major issues on the downside included Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), off 6 percent at C$18.20. However, Sun Life Financial SLF.TO ended the day up 0.7 percent at C$23.15.
The two big insurers saw their quarterly results battered by ailing capital markets, writedowns and the need to shore up reserves. [ID:nN12444909]
In the oil patch, Nexen Inc NXY.TO dropped 2.7 percent to C$16.97. ($1=$1.24 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Frank McGurty)