(Updates to midmorning)
*Index pushes higher as resources shares rebound
*Energy sector trims gains as oil price retreats
TORONTO, May 30 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s was sharply higher, but off early highs, on Friday morning, rising on renewed strength in big resource companies.
In choppy action, the price of oil retreated, causing the energy sector to trim its advances. But the sector held on to a 0.8-percent gain, with Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) up C$1.49, or 1.6 percent, at C$96.74, while Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) rose 69 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, at C$57.39.
The materials sector also gathered momentum, with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) adding C$2.62, or 1.4 percent, to C$197.20. Miners also came back from losses on Thursday. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) was up C$1.32, or 1.9 percent, at C$69.28, while the materials group rose 1.3 percent.
Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, said that so far the index seemed to be moving in tandem with the fluctuating price of oil.
“It’s really directionless at the moment and (there was) not a lot of news overnight,” Hand said.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 75.58 points, or 0.52 percent, at 14,652.75 with half of its 10 main groups looking up. The benchmark had jumped as high as 14,736.88 immediately after the opening bell.
Teck Cominco TCKb.TO gained 18 Canadian cents, or 0.4 percent, to C$47.59 after the diversified miner said it had restarted its Trail lead refinery after a temporary shutdown.
On the economic front, data showed the Canadian economy shrank unexpectedly in the first quarter, the first time in five years, which opened the door to additional interest rate cuts.
On the downside, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) dipped 22 Canadian cents, or 0.3 percent, to C$69.24 the day after it reported a hefty quarterly loss.
The financial sector overall was little changed, off 0.02 percent, after the major banks reported corporate results throughout the week. Among gainers in the group, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) put on 65 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$70.60. ($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing Peter Galloway)