UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks put in strong gain as banks climb

Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:29am EDT
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(Updates stock movement, adds details)

TORONTO, April 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index climbed 100 points on Friday morning, boosted by strength in banking shares amid hopes that the worst of the credit crunch has passed.

Canadian financials were lifted by upward momentum south of the border as quarterly results from major U.S. banks gave investors optimism that they were wiping the slate clean by taking write-offs and cutting costs.

All of the market's major banks were up, including Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote), which rose C$1.79, or 2.6 percent, to C$70.35, and Bank of Nova Scotia, which gained C$1.58, or 3.4 percent, to C$47.47. Overall, the sector was up 2.7 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 117.98 points, or 0.84 percent, at 14,233.48 with eight of its 10 main sectors moving higher.

The materials sector, home to resource shares, led the downside, falling 1.4 percent. Its smaller subindex of gold producers gave up 3.1 percent, bruised by falling gold prices amid a stronger U.S. dollar.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO: Quote) shed C$3.65, or 4.8 percent, to C$73.10, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) gave up C$1.53, or 3.4 percent, at C$43.99.

But Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) bucked the trend, rising C$4.88, or 2.5 percent, to C$201.76 as it added to the recent surge.

The heavyweight energy sector bounced 0.4 percent, after falling earlier in the day, while crude prices popped up over $115 a barrel.   Continued...