Toronto stocks buoyed by record commodity prices

Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:17pm EST
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index charged higher on Wednesday, shrugging off early losses, as resource shares were boosted by new highs from oil and gold prices.

It was the second consecutive day of triple-digit gains for the index, adding onto the previous session's more than 200-point advance, which was also fueled by oil's return to the $100 mark. The index is up 3 percent for the month so far.

The energy and materials sectors, which combined make up about 40 percent of the index, gained 0.9 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.

Oil hurtled to a record $101.31 a barrel, spurred by concerns over supply from OPEC. Crude closed at $100.74, the top settlement on record.

On Bay Street, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) was up C$1.30, or 1.9 percent, at C$69.35, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) added C$1.01, or 1 percent, to C$100.60.

Gold prices followed oil's momentum to hit a high of $943.20 an ounce before stepping back to $934.80. The gold-producers subindex rose 1.2 percent, with Centerra Gold (CG.TO: Quote) gaining 29 Canadian cents, or 2.1 percent, to C$14.04. Also in the resources area, Agrium Inc (AGU.TO: Quote) climbed C$2.43, or 3.5 percent, to C$71.43.

"It looks like we had a nice follow-through," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd. "The commodities have been helping us along with oil making new highs and gold making new highs."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 103.95 points, or 0.77 percent, at 13,551.69 with seven of its 10 main groups in positive territory.   Continued...

<p>A sign showing the level of the TSX is seen on a downtown Toronto building January 21, 2008. REUTERS/Peter Jones</p>