* TSX soars 221.33 points to 13,746.15
* Eight of index's 10 sectors stronger
* Oil, copper, gold all firmer (Updates to close, adds details, quotes)
TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index snapped a three-day slide on Thursday, ending sharply higher on rising prices for oil and other commodities, though Japan's nuclear crisis and clashes in the Middle East kept investors uncertain about the near-term outlook.
The powerhouse energy sector surged almost 4 percent as the price of crude shot up by roughly the same amount on fears of further geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. [O/R] [ID:nL3E7EH0EX]
Japanese engineers worked through the night to restore a power cable to a crippled nuclear power plant in the hope of restarting pumps desperately needed to pour cold water on overheating fuel rods and avert a catastrophe. [ID:nL3E7EH2SM]
"We're waiting for the headlines out of Japan to be less bad and that's exactly what we're getting," said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
"I wouldn't say they're positive, but at least encouraging headlines ... it's just a relief rally."
Materials were up 1.7 percent, boosted by base-metal miners, which climbed almost 4 percent as the price of copper hit its highest level in more than a week. Teck Resources TCKb.TO advanced more than 5 percent to C$53.72. [MET/L]
"One would think that if Japan and the Middle East and North Africa and euro zone are going to cause a slowdown in growth, that you wouldn't want to be heavy to the commodities," added Schwartz, noting that he wasn't aggressively taking on positions until investors got a clearer picture on the outcome of global events.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 221.33 points, or 1.64 percent, at 13,746.15. Eight of its 10 main groups were stronger.
Uranium producers however, continued to be pummeled over the nuclear crisis in Japan. Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) dipped to a six-month low, falling almost 6 percent to C$27.73. [ID:nN17128176]
Gold-mining shares reversed earlier losses, rising 0.5 percent as bullion prices benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar. Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 1 percent to C$45.91 [GOL/]
Gammon Gold GAM.TO added 3.1 percent to C$8.40 after Capital Gold CGC.A reiterated its support for Gommon's takeover offer. [ID:nN17132651]
In other company news, Research In Motion RIM.TO rose 1 percent to C$60.04 after the BlackBerry maker said on Wednesday it has big plans to make better use of its nerve center computers. [ID:nN16259058]
Lululemon Athletica LLL.TO sank 4.4 percent to C$75.26, after it posted a higher quarterly profit but said it was unable to meet soaring demand for its activewear clothing lines. [ID:nN16138953]
$1=$0.99 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson