CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends dismal 2008 with trio of solid gains

Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:07pm EST
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* Toronto stocks end up 1.8 percent in third day of gains

* Index's 35 percent drop in '08 is biggest since 1931

CALGARY, Alberta Dec 31 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index jumped nearly 2 percent on Wednesday, ending the worst year for Canadian stocks since the Great Depression on a positive note as oil prices staged a late-session rally.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 156.98 points, or 1.8 percent, at 8,987.7 in a third-straight session of triple-digit gains.

That still represents a full-year drop of 35 percent, the biggest for the market since 1931, according to TSX figures.

"It's a positive day for a bad year, and we've had a few positive days now," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Toronto.

"It's nice to see green on the screen -- meaning go ahead -- as opposed to red -- stop and rethink your strategy."

All 10 main sectors ended higher, led by health care, up 4 percent, information technology, up 3 percent, and consumer staples, up 2.5 percent.

Oil prices jumped late in the session to end up $5.57, or 14 percent, at $44.60 a barrel, lifted by concern about fuel supplies this winter due to a slowdown in refinery activity. [ID:nSP253619]   Continued...