TORONTO, March 25 (Reuters) - Toronto stocks were expected to charge higher on Tuesday, following through on the previous session's stellar performance, as the index's bellwether groups show leadership.
But investors will take a cautious stance ahead of the key U.S. consumer confidence numbers set to be released shortly after the markets open.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE begins the day at 13,019.72, powered by a surge in the heavily weighted banking stocks which found new life after JPMorgan (JPM.N) raised its Bear Stearns BSC.N bid to about $10 a share from the $2 a share it had originally offered.
Energy and metal issues helped the advance on Monday.
And more of the same is expected in the upcoming session as these three key sectors, which account for more than 60 percent of the market's weight, show no signs of cooling.
"If you have these sectors doing well, then it bodes well for the TSX," said Luc Girard, director of the portfolio advisory group at Desjardins Securities in Montreal. "I think the momentum will continue today."
Energy shares are expected to climb on the back of firming prices for U.S. crude oil, which rose 0.4 percent to settle above $101 a barrel on a weaker U.S. dollar.
Meanwhile, metal prices could also head higher, with the price for gold firm at around $928 an ounce.
Investors will digest the latest Canadian economic data that showed retail sales jumped 1.5 percent in January for a third straight month of big gains due to strength across all types of stores including the auto sector.
That beat analysts' expectations of a 1.2 percent advance in January and follows a revised 0.8 percent gain in December.
Among individual companies, ZI Corp ZIC.TO is a stock to watch after it posted mixed fourth-quarter results that missed analyst targets for its earnings per share, but topped those on the revenue side.
Lorus Therapeutics LOR.TO is also a stock to watch after it announced the start of toxicology studies for its lead anti-cancer small molecule drug. This is in preparation for an investigational new drug application with the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)