CANADA STOCKS-Oils help TSX extend rally to 2-1/2 yr highs
* TSX up 76.97 points, or 0.55 percent, at 14,136.15
* Six of the 10 main groups finish higher
* Energy stocks up 1.31 percent (Updates with details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed higher on Thursday, extending its recent rally to levels not seen since early July 2008, as rising U.S. crude futures provided support for energy stocks.
Suncor Energy SU.TO led the charge, rising 2.37 percent to C$44.48, and fellow oil company Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO rose 1.46 percent to C$47.23.
The index's energy group gained 1.31 percent overall as U.S. crude futures climbed sharply as protests in oil-producing regions kept concerns over supply disruptions in focus. [O/R]
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 76.97 points, or 0.55 percent, at 14,136.15.
"It's the second day that we're closing over 14,000 in the last 2-1/2 years," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities.
"The strength of the TSX has certainly been quite remarkable. But, it's a global trend, it's not just the TSX moving up in isolation."
Financial stocks, which make up nearly 30 percent of the index, were up 0.57 percent as most of the big banks advanced. Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO led with a 1.3 percent climb to C$60.99.
The group's gains were held back by a 2.62 percent drop in Sun Life Financial SLF.TO to C$33.02. Canada's No. 3 insurer reported earnings that missed analysts' expectations after the market close on Wednesday. [ID:nN17115214] [ID:nN16243387]
Diversified miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO was among the biggest decliners, falling 2.87 percent to C$55.87, tracking copper prices. Copper fell from record highs to a three-week low on inflation worries and as demand-crimping prices cooled sentiment. [MET/L]
"There's some tendency for investors to take profits on some of these big names that have done extremely well in recent months," Picardo said.
"There's a little bit of skittishness about where commodity prices will go from here, so I think that could be the normal course of profit-taking."
Agnico Eagle AEM.TO shed 4.85 percent to C$71.73 and Kinross Gold K.TO dropped 2.33 percent to C$16.37 after both gold miners reported lower than expected quarterly earnings late on Wednesday. [ID:nN16257028]
Barrick Gold ABX.TO, which posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, was another key gainer, rising 1.9 percent to C$49.91. [ID:nN17277324]
A number of other gold miners saw gains as prices for the safe haven precious metal climbed for a fourth day, stoked by inflation worries and flaring Middle East tensions. [GOL/]
The index's materials group, home to miners, was flat, closing down just 0.01 percent.
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)
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