CANADA STOCKS-Toronto index climbs to four-week high

Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:05pm EST
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* Toronto stocks climb 2.24 percent in broad rally

* Telecoms, consumer issues, financials lead way

CALGARY, Alberta Dec 30 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index climbed to its highest level in more than four weeks on Tuesday as a broad-based rally offset weakness in mining shares due to lower gold prices.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE jumped 193.43 points, or 2.24 percent, to close at 8,830.72 in a second straight session of triple-digit gains.

With the exception of the materials group, which includes gold-mining stocks, all other sectors staged gains on the penultimate trading day of 2008, led by telecommunications, consumer discretionary issues and financials.

It was the index's highest close since Nov. 28.

"One point to make, as always at this time of year, is how small the volumes are so therefore it doesn't take much to move it," said Gavin Graham, director of investments at BMO Asset Management.

"On the other hand, oil and gold are off somewhat and yet you're seeing stronger oil stocks and also financials, which are an important part of the Canadian market."

The latter could be because of weakness in the U.S. housing market driving a belief that any interest rate hikes are a long way off, Graham said.   Continued...