UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks driven higher by robust banks

Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:35pm EDT
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

TORONTO, April 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index finished the week strongly higher on Friday, spurred by financial shares, which rallied on hope that the worst of the credit crisis has already been seen.

All of the market's major banks pushed higher in the wake of quarterly results from U.S. financial institutions that gave investors confidence they were getting closer to wiping the slate clean by taking write-offs and cutting costs.

In Toronto, Bank of Nova Scotia was up C$1.61, or 3.5 percent, at C$47.50, and Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO gained 71 Canadian cents, or 1.5 percent, to C$48.06. Overall the sector climbed 2.1 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 121.56 points, or 0.86 percent, at 14,237.06, with all but two of its 10 main groups in an upswing.

The benchmark rose 4.1 percent for the week, surging over the key 14,000-mark and rising to highs last seen in early November.

Declines in gold producers weighed on the index as the sector was stung by falling gold prices. Barrick Gold ABX.TO shed C$1.72, or 3.8 percent, to C$43.80, while Kinross Gold K.TO gave up C$1.29, or 5.1 percent, at C$23.85.

The gold space lost 3.6 percent and helped push its larger materials sector down 0.8 percent.

But Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO swam against the downward current of its sector, adding on to the recent spike in its stock price. Its shares finished up C$8.82, or 4.5 percent, at C$205.70.

The tech sector jumped 2.4 percent the day after bellwether Google GOOG.O reported better-than-expected results and said it saw no impact on its business from a weakening economy. On Bay Street, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion RIM.TO was up C$3.72, or 3.1 percent, at C$123.57, while Nortel Networks NT.TO added 37 Canadian cents, or 5.2 percent, to C$7.48.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)