Toronto stocks drive higher on soaring oil prices

Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:23pm EDT
 
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pushed higher for the sixth session in a row on Monday, propelled by robust energy shares as the price of oil hit yet another record high.

The oil and gas group climbed 1.7 percent as oil prices surged to over $117 a barrel. Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) rose C$2.87, or 2.5 percent, to C$119.51, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) jumped C$2.98, or 3.5 percent, to C$88.15.

U.S. crude settled up 79 cents at $117.48 a barrel, boosted by supply worries as rebels cut Nigerian supplies and a Scottish refinery strike threatened North Sea production.

"I think that what oil is telling you is there's not really a global slowdown going on," said Paul Harris, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management. "As oil continues to do well, I think Canadian stocks, like the Suncors of the world, will have to do well."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 84.10 points, or 0.59 percent, at 14,321.16 with all but two of its 10 main sectors higher.

The index has rallied more than 7 percent since the start of the month, helped by optimism that the worst of the credit crunch has passed. Monday's gains put it within about 325 points of reaching its record high.

"From a technical perspective, it looks like you've bounced off that bottom two or three times, so I think you're probably at a good base," Harris said.

Fertilizer companies Agrium (AGU.TO: Quote) and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) also helped lift the benchmark, adding to their recent sharp gains. Agrium jumped C$4.39, or 5 percent, to C$92.70, and Potash Corp rose C$5.40, or 2.6 percent, to   Continued...