UPDATE 4-Resource strength helps lift Toronto stocks

Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:24pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, April 14 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index climbed higher on Monday, propped up by robust energy shares that offset worries about the prospects for earnings season and further fallout from the credit crunch.

The energy and materials sectors were the only groups to push higher, amid a jump in the price of oil to a record close of $111.76 a barrel.

Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO rose C$3.93, or 5 percent, to C$82.32 and Imperial Oil IMO.TO added C$2.18, or 4 percent, to C$56.22, while the overall sector was up 2.6 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 55.57 points, or 0.41 percent, at 13,738.60, off of a session high of 13,775.08.

But U.S. bank Wachovia WB.N set a negative tone early in the day after it reported a quarterly loss, hurt by surging credit problems from mortgages and other debt.

The unexpected miss, coming on the heels of a lower profit posted last week by bellwether General Electric GE.N, added to worries of a weak earnings season.

"I think the market hates surprises ... and most people had expected the company to show earnings, not a loss," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.   Continued...