CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises as commodity prices firm

Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:40am EDT
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* TSX up 1.81 percent at 10,556.64

* TSX at highest level since June 12

* Materials group up 2.64 percent (Adds details, quote)

By Nina Lex

TORONTO, July 20 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose more than 1 percent on Monday morning as firmer oil and metals prices helped lift the resource-heavy index to its highest level since June 12.

The index's mining-laden materials group led the rise with a 2.64 percent gain on higher gold prices. Gold was up as the U.S. dollar slipped to a six-week low, boosting the precious metal's appeal as a currency hedge. [ID:nLK3592] Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) rose 3.5 percent at C$42.28 and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was up 2.24 percent at C$39.30.

The index's energy sector gained 2.29 percent as the price of oil rose to around $64 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) shares were up 3.3 percent to C$65.08, EnCana ECA.TO rose 2.4 percent to C$58.03, and Petro-Canada PCA.TO was up 3.28 percent at C$44.69.

The financial sector rose 1.32 percent. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) was the TSX's biggest heavyweight gainer, up 3.67 percent to C$22.62. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) was up 0.70 percent to C$43.30 and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) rose 1.10 percent at C$49.70.

"(The rise in financials) is a matter of confidence. The worst hasn't happened, people were expecting the worst," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "It's a real tug-of-war between the bulls and the bears."   Continued...