Toronto stocks spring up on fertilizer firms, RIM

Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:15pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index rose broadly and sharply on Monday in a rally sparked early in the day by record commodity prices and sustained later by gains in the financial and tech sectors.

A record high for corn prices amid widespread flooding in the U.S. Midwest pushed up shares of fertilizer companies Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) and Agrium (AGU.TO: Quote), making them among the biggest gainers on the benchmark.

Potash Corp was up C$3.55, or 1.5 percent, at C$235.67, while Agrium rose C$1.84, or 1.7 percent, to C$108.30, helping push Toronto's materials group up 1.7 percent.

Tech heavyweight Research In Motion RIM.TO also lent its support, jumping C$7.42, or 5.4 percent, to C$144.21. Nokia NOK1V.HE unveiled two new business phones, but investors did not see the offerings as a threat to RIM's BlackBerry.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 165.82 points, or 1.12 percent, at 14,944.28 with all but two of its 10 main sectors rising.

The flooding across Iowa and Illinois - the worst in 15 years - stoked fears of crop losses in the United States, the world's top grain exporter.

"It certainly seems like the crop is in big, big trouble," said Levente Mady, broker at MF Global Canada, in Vancouver.

"A lot of fertilizers and previous plantings have been washed away by the floods, so demand is going to be just huge for the agriculture and fertilizer sector, and obviously that's being reflected in (the stocks)."   Continued...

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>