CANADA STOCKS-Energy, financial issues lead TSX higher

Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:51pm EST
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* TSX rallies 2.77 percent to 7,859.33

* Financials jump 7.2 percent

* Energy issues up 5.5 percent on oil

* Materials retreat 5.2 percent on gold (Adds details, quote)

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed sharply higher on Tuesday as oil and gas issues climbed with rising crude prices, while financials strengthened as fears over the fate of the troubled U.S. banking sector eased.

In see-saw action, the benchmark index swung nearly 300 points from trough to peak, with the upside supported by strength in energy issues as oil settled nearly 4 percent higher at $39.96 a barrel. [ID:nSIN379847] The main pressure to the downside came from weaker gold prices.

Oil and gas stocks rose 5.5 percent, while materials sank 5.2 percent.

The heavily weighted financial services sector led the TSX higher, and finished the day up 7.2 percent. The sector followed U.S. stocks higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that nationalization of major U.S. banks was not at hand. [ID:nN24405808]

As well, markets were higher ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday night, said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics. The speech is expected to lay out the blueprint for the administration's economic plans.   Continued...