UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks bounce higher in late rally

Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:53pm EST
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(Updates with official numbers, adds details)

TORONTO Feb 22 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index finished higher on Friday thanks to a late-day rally by financial shares and gains by the energy sector.

After a see-saw session, the index climbed strongly higher shortly before the close amid reports of a rescue plan for U.S. bond insurer Ambac Financial Group Inc ABK.N. A source said the deal could be announced early next week.

The financial sector rose 1 percent, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO: Quote) adding C$1.86, or 2.8 percent, to C$67.61 and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) up 84 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$67.18.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 76.36 points, or 0.57 percent, at 13,585.91 with seven of its 10 main sectors in positive territory. In choppy action, the index fell more than 100 points earlier in the day.

Gains in the energy sector also supported the benchmark, adding 1 percent. Crude moved up 58 cents to $98.81 a barrel amid cold weather in the U.S. Northeast and on geopolitical tensions following an incursion into Iraq by Turkish troops.

Petro-Canada PCA.TO rose 32 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, to C$47.45 and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) was up 42 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, at C$68.62.

CHC Helicopter FLYa.TO was the TSX's biggest net gainer after it said it had agreed to be bought for about C$1.5 billion from private equity firm First Reserve Corp. The total value of the deal, including debt and leases for aircraft, is C$3.7 billion.

CHC, the world's largest provider of helicopter services to the offshore oil and gas industry, soared C$8.37, or 38.3 percent, to C$30.25.   Continued...