April 22, 2009 / 8:59 PM / 8 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX gets boost from commodities but banks fall

* Market ekes out gain of 0.35 percent

* Energy, golds hold strong as commodities stable

* Financials drop after staying positive most of the day (Adds details on day’s biggest gainer)

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO, April 22 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished modestly higher on Wednesday as stable commodity prices helped energy and gold shares hold their own against weak financial issues.

Seven of the 10 main sectors of the benchmark moved higher, including the heavyweight energy and resource-rich materials groups, which added 1.66 percent and 0.58 percent, respectively.

The day’s big gainers included oil company EnCana Corp (ECA.TO), which advanced 4.2 percent to C$54.92, and Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM.TO, which rose 1.5 percent to C$56.58.

However, the third main pillar of the Toronto market -- the financial sector -- finished down 1.22 percent, after staying higher most of a volatile trading day.

The S&P/TSX composite .GSPTSE rose 31.98 points, or 0.35 percent, to close at 9,279.15 after hitting a session high of 9,411.55.

The day’s biggest net gainer was business communications company Aastra Technologies AAH.TO, which leaped 34.7 percent to C$30.65 a day after it posted a jump in profit due, in part, to an acquisition.

The day’s gains were modest, but Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, said the market’s recent strength -- including the TSX index’s six-week streak of gains -- is a positive sign.

“There’s a real buying power out there,” he said. “I still think that confidence is still pretty fragile out there, but it is enlightening to see this.”

Energy shares were aided by a gain in the price of oil and gold shares were helped by stronger bullion prices, which rose on a weaker U.S. dollar and firmer physical demand.

Banks fell, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) sliding 2.2 percent to end at C$52, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) dropping 3 percent to C$43.53.

Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel, said it will be difficult to predict a longer-term trend for the TSX until the corporate earnings season plays out. He highlighted the health of financial institutions as of particular concern for investors.

“I don’t think that we can read anything into the day-to-day machinations of the market right at this point in time because everything is just so reactive right now,” he said.

$1=$1.24 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway

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