UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks get lift from robust banks

Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:43am EDT
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(Updates to midmorning)

TORONTO, April 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pushed higher on Friday morning as financials were buoyed by optimism that the worst of the credit crunch may be over.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote) was among the biggest gainers on the benchmark, rising C$1.80, or 2.6 percent, to C$70.36 as quarterly results from major U.S. banks lifted hopes that banks were starting to clean up their balance sheets.

The banking sector overall rose 2.7 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) pushed up C$1.54, or 2.4 percent, to C$65.36.

"These guys (U.S. banks) have fessed up to some pretty horrendous numbers," said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

"I think we're hoping ... that they have taken a pretty good shot at cleaning up their balance sheets and maybe the damage going forward won't be quite so shocking."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 61.88 points, or 0.44 percent, at 14,177.38.

Energy and materials sectors were the only two groups on the downside, losing 0.2 percent and 2 percent respectively, as falling commodity prices took their toll.

Gold producers were down 4.1 percent as strength in the U.S. dollar caused the price of bullion to skid more than 3 percent, hitting a one-week low of $906.90 an ounce.   Continued...