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TORONTO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange rose strongly on Thursday morning, led by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), as commodity prices and the prospect of more interest rate cuts lifted shares.
Continuing its volatile ways, the index jumped more than 300 points shortly after the open as investors cheered reports that New York state regulators were meeting battered U.S. bond insurers to hammer out a plan that could ease the credit crisis.
That -- along with expectations of further cuts to interest rates in Canada, the United States and elsewhere -- helped to lift recently depressed commodity prices, which in turn lifted the resource-heavy TSX.
Meanwhile, shares of Potash Corp soared nearly 7 percent after the world's biggest fertilizer producer reported a doubling of fourth-quarter profit, beating expectations. For details, see: [nL24902402]
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was off early highs by midmorning, but still up 219.13 points, or 1.7 percent, at 12,876.53. All sectors were up, with materials stocks leading the charge.
The materials sector advanced 4.1 percent, with Potash Corp up C$8.18 at C$130.06. The metals and mining subsector was up 4.4 percent on higher metals prices.
The prices of gold and oil also rose, benefiting from a weaker U.S. dollar.
The TSX energy sector, second in weight to the financial sector, jumped 2 percent as U.S. crude oil futures rose by nearly $1 to near $88 a barrel. Natural gas futures, another key gauge for Canadian energy producers, were also higher.
Financial stocks led a late-day rise on Wednesday and were up 0.5 percent on Thursday morning. Toronto-Dominion (TD.TO), Canada's second-biggest bank, was down 29 Canadian cents at C$67.95.
$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway