CANADA STOCKS-TSX pushes higher, up on quarter, down on month
* TSX ends up 32.52 points, or 0.23 pct, at 14,116.10
* Five of the index's 10 main groups higher
* TSX rises 5 pct in Q1, off 0.1 pct in Feb
* Bombardier surges more than 13 percent (Updates to close, adds details, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed higher on Thursday, lifted by rallying commodity prices, solid economic data and impressive results from aircraft and train maker Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote).
Bombardier soared 13 percent to C$7.13, and was among the most influential gainers. The company reported an 82 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings as business jet orders picked up dramatically and it announced a $278 million contract for new trains. [ID:nL3E7EV1SN]
The overall industrials sector led advances with a 2.1 percent rise. [ID:nL3E7EV1SN]
"It's a very cyclical business and the fact that Bombardier had such strong earnings says that there are orders out there," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier."
Nakamoto said the market has been resilient lately despite all the bad news, particularly out of Japan and the Middle East, as well as political uncertainty ahead of the May federal election and oil prices well above $100 a barrel.
"Poor news seems to be forgotten pretty quickly and good news I think will cause people to get off the sidelines and put money into the market. If you think of what's happened here in the month and still we're almost back to flat," he said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 32.52 points, or 0.23 percent, at 14,116.10. Earlier in the session, it reached as high as 14,166.60, its strongest level in almost a week.
Half of the index's 10 main groups advanced. Financials reversed earlier gains and ended down 0.2 percent. The index was up 5 percent for the quarter and off 0.1 percent for the month.
The materials group, home to mining companies, rose 0.4 percent as metal prices firmed. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) gained 0.6 percent to C$50.39 while Agnico Eagle (AEM.TO: Quote) jumped 2.1 percent to C$64.45.
Gold rose nearly 1 percent, set for a 10th straight quarterly gain, as the U.S. dollar fell against the euro and as oil rallied on Middle East supply worries. [GOL/] [O/R]
Oil and gas stocks added 0.3 percent, with Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) up 0.3 percent C$43.48.
"Today's all about commodities recovering after having a selloff most of this week," said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
"Pretty bullish feelings out there, because the economy is showing such strong output. Each time we get these outside shocks, these geopolitical events, it doesn't seem to have any effect on the rally."
On the data front, Canada's gross domestic product figures, released early on Thursday, showed manufacturing grew at its fastest rate in eight years and helped boost the overall economy by 0.5 percent. [ID:nN31223177]
South of the border, initial claims for unemployment benefits last week showed the trend of labor market improvements remained intact, but at a slow pace.
The data precedes Friday's closely watched monthly employment report from the U.S. Labor Department -- a large deviation in either direction from the estimate of 190,000 jobs added to March non-farm payrolls is likely to have a strong effect on markets. [ID:nN31253973]
"I heard someone call it the power of zero, when you're getting pretty much zero on any sort of fixed income instrument, money will go into where they think it will get the best returns and ... it's gone into equity markets," added Nakamoto.
"Having said that, besides lower interest rates, the earnings performances were much better than analysts expected and I think this quarter which is about to end is going to be another good one."
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Rob Wilson)
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