* TSX up 117.74 points at 11,630
* Touches highest level in nearly 2 months
* Materials shares lead rally
* Potash Corp jumps after Soros fund boosts stake (Adds details and quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose on Tuesday as commodity prices ticked higher and shares of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) rallied after billionaire investor George Soros’s hedge fund raised its stake in the company.
Potash Corp topped the list of influential gainers, rising 7 percent to C$116.50. The rise helped to boost the broader materials sector 2.1 percent, with fertilizer producer Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) also higher by 3.8 percent at C$58.55. [ID:nN1748977]
The news “would certainly be a bullish indication of how Mr. Soros feels,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
“He’s obviously a sophisticated investor. If he’s willing to take a position or a gamble on a significant position on a stock it might encourage other people to look that way and perhaps follow suit,” Latimer said.
Strength in commodity-linked shares came as the price of oil CLc1 settled above $79 a barrel [O/R], while bullion and base metals prices were firm. [GOL/] [MET/]. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose 2.2 percent and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) 2.9 percent.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 117.74 points, or 1.02 percent, at 11,630.00, closing higher for a third straight session. Earlier, it touched its highest level since late September.
The market is now within striking distance of its 2009 high of 11,648.55. A move above this would bring it to levels not seen since October of last year when the global financial crisis was in full swing.
“A lot of people look at charts as reference points so 11,650 on the TSX is basically what has capped the market for the last two or three months. A break of that would confirm short covering and fresh buying from technical funds,” said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada, in Montreal.
“For the day, it seems the bus is on a one way street.”
Nine of its 10 main groups were higher except for the telecoms sector, which closed down 0.1 percent.
Financial shares, up 0.8 percent, also helped to keep the broader index higher. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) was up 2.6 percent at C$52.95 and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) rose 0.8 percent at C$58.00.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 7.71 points higher, or 1.13 percent, at 692.28.
Elsewhere, Loblaw Cos (L.TO) shares climbed 4.9 percent to C$31.90 after it reported a higher quarterly profit on Tuesday despite weaker same-store sales. [ID:nN17300399]
($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)