December 19, 2007 / 10:15 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 4-Energy issues, bargain-hunting lift Toronto stocks

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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index ended higher on Wednesday as strong energy shares and bargain-hunting provided a rally, despite an earnings warning from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO).

The index jumped as high as 13,492.70 before drifting lower. The bounce ended the TSX’s four-day losing streak but analysts were cautious as to whether it was the beginning of a late year-end rally.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 31.75 points, or 0.24 percent, at 13,389.82, with six of the TSX’s 10 main sectors in positive territory.

The energy group led the advance, rising 0.7 percent, while the price of oil climbed on worries of a winter supply crunch. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was up 96 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, at C$104.41.

Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO rose 12 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, to C$17.77 after it said it had begun producing oil and gas from the Wood field in the North Sea.

On the downside, shares in CIBC slid after the bank said there was a “reasonably high probability” it will incur a “large charge” in the first quarter because of its exposure to the floundering U.S. subprime mortgage market and to troubled U.S. bond insurer ACA Capital Holdings.

CIBC ended down C$1.15, or 1.6 percent, at C$71,14, while the financials sector slipped just 0.2 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) gained 6 Canadian cents, or 0.1 percent, to C$50.77, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) lost 21 Canadian cents, or 0.3 percent, to C$70.05.

Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri, said the sector appeared relatively unfazed by CIBC’s announcement.

“The specifics are a surprise but the issue was known, and second, it’s very much a CIBC-specific issue,” said Warne. “It’s not something that gives you information on all the other financials.”

The utilities sector gained 0.9 percent and the consumer staples group rose 0.6 percent.

Wednesday’s rally comes after the index lost 3 percent over the past four sessions. It is still down 2 percent so far this month.

“If, and obviously this is a big if, nothing else surprises the markets, we could see it move up,” said Warne.

“But I‘m not at all persuaded that we’ll see a typical year-end rally and I think that’s because investors are quite cautious and somewhat nervous about what’s going to happen next.”

In individual stock moves, Lundin Mining (LUN.TO) rose 17 Canadian cents, or 2 percent, to C$8.85 after it said it would buy back up to 5 percent of its shares, and that production had started at its Aljustrel zinc mine in Portugal.

Flight-simulator maker CAE Inc (CAE.TO) climbed 45 Canadian cents, or 3.5 percent, to C$13.25 after it said it won a C$160 million contract from the Australian military for helicopter training systems and services.

Market volume was 407 million shares worth C$6.8 billion. Decliners outpaced advancers 879 to 788. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 1.65 points, or 0.21 percent, at 782.51.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell slightly in light activity amid concerns over continued fallout from the U.S. housing slump.

The Dow ended down 25.20, or 0.19 percent, at 13,207.27, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC finished up 4.98 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,601.01.

$1=$1.00 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson

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