*TSX index up 139.98 points, or 1.49 pct, at 9,549.48.
*Hits highest level since Nov, gains for 7th straight week
*Gold shines, lifts materials group 4.28 pct (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, April 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose to its highest level in more than five months on Friday, and scored its seventh straight week of gains, as rising oil and gold prices powered commodity-related issues higher.
The index’s mining-heavy materials group rose 4.28 percent, with gold-mining issues supported by bullion prices that reached a three-week high, while fertilizer producer Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) rebounded from the previous session’s drop. [ID:nLO625427]
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) added 4.08 percent to C$37.46, building on the previous session’s gains, while Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 3.96 percent to C$36. Potash Corp was up 4.2 percent at C$101.59, a day after it lowered its full-year outlook.
The energy group climbed 1.04 percent as the price of oil topped $51 a barrel. [ID:nSP416073]
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 139.98 points, or 1.49 percent, at 9,549.48. The TSX is up 1.2 percent from the week before, and up nearly 26 percent in seven weeks.
Seven of the index’s 10 sectors were higher, with the financial group joining the other two big TSX sectors, materials and energy, on the plus side.
The financials finished the session up 1.42 percent. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) was the most influential stock moving the index higher, rising 5.4 percent to C$20.69.
“This is typical of what happens when concerns about economic growth begin to take a backseat. You see all the major groups moving up in sync,” said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“Those three groups were very badly smacked at the height of this bear market. So they’re rebounding. It’s a good thing. And I would say it should be expected after the magnitude of the decline we had at the bottom of this market.”
The TSX rose to its highest level since November in the morning. It pared gains briefly in the afternoon along with U.S. stock indexes after the release of a much anticipated concept paper on U.S. government stress tests for the 19 biggest U.S. financial institutions, but then rose again.
The paper was a precursor to the May 4 release of the results of the stress tests, which are designed to ensure banks have enough reserve capital. [ID:nN24404483]
“You’re really going to see the markets continue to be a little bit volatile in the runup to the release of the stress tests,” Picardo said.
“It’s impossible to handicap what the results are going to be. At this point, the markets seem to be fairly confident in the outcome of those tests, just judging by market action.”
Still, he cautioned that an unexpected result showing that U.S. banks are on shaky ground would upset market momentum and a reversal could come in a hurry.
The S&P/TSX 60, which is made up of Canada’s blue-chip companies, rose 1.4 percent to 578.97.
$1=$1.21 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway