UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks boosted by resource issues

Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:52pm EST
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(Updates with official closing numbers, adds detail, quote)

By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO Dec 24 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index ended higher on Monday after a half day of light trading, pulled up by gains in resource and financial shares.

The materials sector led the way, adding 1.3 percent, lifted by net gain leader Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote), which was up C$6.19, or 4.7 percent, at C$137.33.

Novagold Resources (NG.TO: Quote) was up 6 Canadian cents, or 0.8 percent, at C$8.11, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) rose 26 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, to C$38.88 as the price of gold steadied. The gold-mining subsector as a whole, however, was off 0.3 percent.

The heavyweight energy group also gave support, moving up 0.5 percent as oil prices reversed direction and moved higher. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO: Quote) rose 47 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$54.55, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) edged up 32 Canadian cents, or 0.5 percent, to C$70.88.

The market's key S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 98.75 points, or 0.7 percent, at 13,694.84. The market closed early for the Christmas holidays and will reopen on Dec. 27.

"It appears as though recent winners and recent leadership are just continuing their recent gains (but) for the most part it's relatively quiet today," said Neil Andrew, portfolio manager at Leeward Hedge Funds.

"(It's) a very late-month rally that started in a meaningful way on Friday," he said. "It seems as though people have returned to fundamentals in our view."   Continued...