* TSX up 39.15 points, or 0.33 percent, at 12,047.95
* Materials lead index higher as metals prices climb
* Westjet falls sharply after CEO resigns (Adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index rose on Tuesday morning as firmer oil and metals prices boosted some commodity issues, while Canadian economic data provided more evidence that recovery is taking hold.
The index’s materials sector led the way, rising 1.5 percent, with First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) up 2.6 percent at C$90.51 after the miner posted better than expected quarterly results. [ID:nSGE62F0BO]
Fertilizer producer Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) was up 2.3 percent at C$130.46, while miner Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) rose 1.8 percent to C$60.19.
The Canadian dollar’s continued march higher also encouraged the market, said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.
“The Canadian dollar is firm and you keep reading all the press about how Canada is such a favorable place from a fiscal standpoint. The strong dollar is attracting money from everywhere,” he said.
The Canadian dollar hovered near 20-month highs against the U.S. currency on Tuesday, bolstered by firmer oil prices and stronger than expected Canadian factory sales data. [CAD/]
At 10:02 a.m. (1402 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 39.15 points, or 0.33 percent, at 12,047.95. But the index continued to bump back from its year high of 12,070.74, hit in January, reflecting underlying investor caution.
Some resources issues got a lift from higher oil, gold and base metals prices, ahead of an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day. [O/R] [GOL/] [MET/L]
The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to reiterate its pledge to keep rates low for an extended period. [ID:nN15205768]
Elsewhere, Domtar Corp (UFS.TO) shares rose 5 percent to C$67.56 after Goldman Sachs raised the forestry firm (UFS.N) to “buy” from “neutral,” and added the company to its Americas “Conviction Buy” list. [ID:nWNAB9914] For other news, see: [ID:nSGE62F0F4]
On the downside, shares in WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) fell 2.5 percent to C$13.52 as the surprise resignation of its chief executive rattled investors already edgy after a rough year for Canada’s No. 2 carrier. [ID:nN15226841]
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)