UPDATE 3-Commodities power Toronto stocks to 5-month highs

Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:36pm EDT
 
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

TORONTO, April 16 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index closed at its highest level in more than five months on Wednesday, buoyed by rising resources and big gains by fertilizer companies after a surge in the price of potash exports to China.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO and Agrium AGU.TO helped yank the index higher after Chinese importers agreed to pay more than triple what they did a year ago to reserve potash supplies.

Potash Corp jumped C$10.35, or 5.5 percent, to C$198.50, while Agrium climbed C$6.20, or 7.7 percent, to C$86.70. Both companies are part of Canpotex, a joint marketing venture, along with Mosaic MOS.N, which exports potash produced by all three in Saskatchewan.

The S&P/TSX composite .GSPTSE closed up 248.53 points, or 1.79 percent, at 14,099.48 with eight of its 10 main sectors in upward momentum. It was the TSX's highest close since early November.

Gold producers also propelled the benchmark higher as bullion rallied amid the U.S. dollar's descent. Barrick Gold ABX.TO gained C$1.72, or 3.9 percent, to C$46.12, and Kinross Gold K.TO added C$1.30, or 5.4 percent, to C$25.48.

Overall, the materials group pushed up 4 percent, while its gold producer subindex rose 3.5 percent.

The heavyweight energy sector added 1.6 percent, lifted by continuing highs in oil prices. Crude settled up $1.14 at $114.93 a barrel after earlier pushing through $115.

Imperial Oil IMO.TO rose C$2.27, or 4 percent, to C$59.06, and Suncor Energy SU.TO added C$2.26, or 2 percent, to C$114.38.

($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)