UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks rise on banks, but resources weigh

Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:13pm EDT
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(Updates to midday)

TORONTO, March 20 (Reuters) - In a wildly volatile session, the Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pushed higher on Thursday, pulled up by Bank of Montreal and other rallying bank stocks.

Shortly after the opening bell, the benchmark skidded 200 points as resources continued the selloff that helped knock more than 400 points off the index on Wednesday.

But by midday on Thursday losses in resources shares had eased, while the financial sector buoyed the index amid optimism over Bank of Montreal's BMO.TO restructuring of its Apex and Sitka commercial paper trusts, which the bank announced late on Wednesday.

BMO gained C$2.35, or 5.6 percent, to C$44.45, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO was up C$4.33, or 7.2 percent, at C$64.50, and National Bank of Canada NA.TO added C$2.69, or 6 percent, to C$47.69. The financial group as a whole rose 2.3 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 66.76 points, or 0.53 percent, at 12,776.14 with six of its 10 main sectors on the upside. In choppy action, it briefly jumped 100 points late in the morning.

The materials sector, home to resource shares, trimmed losses but remained under water, while the price of gold and other metals extended the downturn that began on Wednesday.

Barrick Gold ABX.TO was down C$2.02, or 4.4 percent, at C$43.94, while Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM.TO shed C$1.72, or 2.5 percent, to C$68.03. The group was down 1.7 percent, while its smaller subindex of gold producers was down 2.9 percent.

The energy sector was off 0.6 percent, with Suncor Energy SU.TO sliding C$1.65, or 1.7 percent, to C$95.02, and Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO off 42 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, at C$66.25.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion RIM.TO added C$3.05, or 3 percent, to C$105.62, helping to push the tech sector up 1.7 percent. The telecoms group was up 2.5 percent.

($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)