TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index broke out of a four-session slump on Wednesday, soaring more than 200 points as the heavyweight resource sectors benefited from strong commodity prices.
A $3 gain in oil prices propelled the benchmark index higher following U.S. government data that showed a decline in fuel and crude supplies.
The energy sector, which has declined recently as oil prices eased from record highs, rose 4.4 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) up 7.2 percent, or C$5.66, at C$84.54.
The materials sector also helped lift up the index, rising 6.5 percent, as gold prices followed oil's upward momentum. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) was up 9.6 percent, or C$4.98, at C$56.90.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 210.22 points, or 1.6 percent, at 13,377.22 with half its 10 main sectors in positive territory.
On the downside, the financial sector sagged 1.7 percent amid nagging worries over the health of the U.S. economy and the potential for more losses related to the credit crisis.
"Naturally you're getting persistent concerns on that front because the housing data really isn't getting much better, nor do I expect it will for a while," said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse.
"And that in turn is going to make any significant recovery in the financials' bottom line some time off," Gorman added.
The small health sector gave up 2.9 percent, brought down by declines by Biovail BVF.TO and Cardiome Pharma (COM.TO) after both reported quarterly losses.
Biovail, Canada's largest publicly traded drug company, was down 28 Canadian cents, or 2.7 percent, at C$10.22, while Cardiome shed 82 Canadian cents, or 8.2 percent, to C$9.14.
Gildan Activewear (GIL.TO) was among the biggest net losers after the clothing maker posted a slightly higher profit, but said that adjusted net earnings slipped. It also declined to provide a fiscal 2009 forecast, citing projected hikes in cotton
and energy costs. The T-shirt maker was down C$2.49, or 8.4 percent, at C$27.00.
The consumer discretionary sector slid 1.6 percent.
Uranium giant Cameco (CCO.TO) bucked the larger materials trend, falling after news of further flooding at its big Cigar Lake project raised expectations of more production delays. Cameco was down C$1.16, or 3.4 percent, at C$32.89.
Market volume was 469 million shares worth C$8.3 billion. Advancers outpaced decliners 857 to 684. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up points 11.22, or 1.42 percent, at 799.79.
In New York, stocks were also bruised by continuing worries over the credit crunch, while the rebound in oil prices and weak outlooks at some retailers prompted concern over consumer spending.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 109.51 points, or 0.94 percent, 11,532.96, and the Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC edged down 1.99 point, or 0.08 percent, to 2,428.62.
Editing by Rob Wilson