UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks rally as rate cuts provide comfort

Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:19pm EST
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(Updated throughout, adds new quotes)

By Scott Anderson

TORONTO Jan 22 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index raced more than 400 points higher on Tuesday morning, erasing almost two-thirds of the steep losses of the previous session, as investors cheered interest rate cuts on both sides of the border.

By late morning, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 354.39 points, or 2.9 percent, at 12,486.52, after climbing as high as 12,598.85. Near the start of the day it actually dipped to as low as 12,011.68 before rebounding.

The gains came in stark contrast to Monday's plunge of more than 600 points as the Toronto market got caught up in a global equities massacre amid worries about a U.S. recession and its impact on world economies.

But a surprise 75-basis-point interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday, followed by a 25 basis point cut by the Bank of Canada, provided some comfort to beleaguered investors.

"Clearly this is a relief rebound, following yesterday's selloff. It is responding positively to the fact that both the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve cut rates," said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones, in St. Louis, Missouri.

"I think people are rethinking if it is all that bad, and they are stepping in to take advantage of the opportunity."

All of the TSX's main groups were higher, with the materials sector leading the rise with a gain of 6.1 percent. Energy shares were up 2.2 percent and financials rose 3.3 percent. Together, these three groups account for almost 75 percent of the index's overall weighting.   Continued...