UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks steady after strong start

Mon May 26, 2008 10:31am EDT
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* Index flat after strong start

* Banks and energy shares gain

* Weak gold weighs on materials

TORONTO, May 26 (Reuters) - Toronto's main index was little changed by midmorning on Monday as lofty oil prices boosted the resource-heavy index but materials shares were weighed by weaker gold in trading thinned by a U.S. holiday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 8.01 points at 14,731.37 after hitting a high of 14,775.14 earlier in the day.

Seven of the TSX index's 10 main groups rose, led by a 0.2 percent boost from the energy group and a 0.9 percent push from the utilities sector. Financial issues were up 0.4 percent.

Activity was light due to holiday closures in the key markets of the United States and the UK.

Energy shares climbed on the back of firm U.S. crude oil prices which rose 0.7 percent to $133.07 a barrel on supply worries in Nigeria and production problems in the North Sea. U.S. crude hit a high of $135.09 a barrel last week.   Continued...