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

Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:47pm EST
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* Toronto stocks end up 1.8 percent in third day of gains

* Late surge in oil prices fuels market

* Index's 35 percent drop in '08 is biggest since 1931 (Adds comments, details)

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index jumped nearly 2 percent on Wednesday to end 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 8,987.70 in a third-straight session of triple-digit gains.

That still translates into a full-year drop of 35 percent, the biggest for the stock market since 1931, according to TSX figures. The Dow Jones industrial average in the United States also had its worst performance since that year, falling 34 percent.

"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."   Continued...