UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks lifted by surge in commodities

Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:40pm EST
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(Updates stock movement, adds details)

TORONTO Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pushed higher late in the day on Thursday, spurred by climbing resource issues as oil and gold prices both touched record highs.

The energy sector advanced 2.4 percent while the price of oil marked a new high above $102 a barrel, boosted by weakness in the U.S. dollar and a fire at a major European natural gas terminal.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO was one of the biggest lifts on the Toronto index, gaining C$3.55, or 4.9 percent, to C$75.37 after it reported its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, helped by soaring oil prices.

The materials sector, home to resource shares, also supported the benchmark, adding 1.7 percent. Its gold producers subindex climbed 1.7 percent while spot gold touched a high above $965 an ounce.

Barrick Gold ABX.TO was up C$1.40, or 2.8 percent, at C$52.00, while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO rose C$1.68, or 1.1 percent, to C$157.70.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 89.71 points, or 0.65 percent, at 13,868.09 with four of its 10 main groups advancing.

On the downside, Bank of Montreal BMO.TO weighed amid fears it may be in line for more writedowns after ratings agency DBRS downgraded the notes of two troubled commercial paper trusts the bank is exposed to. BMO, the country's fourth largest bank, slid C$1.35, or 2.5 percent, to C$52.65.

Also in the sector, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO gave up C$1.10, or 1.6 percent, at C$67.90 as executives acknowledged that further writedowns may be needed. CIBC reported a hefty first-quarter loss after taking charges due to its exposure to the troubled U.S. mortgage market.   Continued...