UPDATE 4-Banks give Toronto stocks a hefty boost

Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:13pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

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

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 writeoffs and cutting costs.

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

Levente Mady, a broker at MF Global Canada in Vancouver, said that as well as the banks' results, measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve to ease tightness in credit markets are beginning to sooth investors' nerves.

"Essentially, what's happening is the market is settling down a little bit in terms of reassurances from the Fed and other central banks ... that they're making sure that they provide adequate liquidity," said Mady.

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 higher.

The benchmark rose 4.1 percent on the week, pushing past the 14,000-mark and rising to highs not seen since early November.   Continued...