November 16, 2009 / 12:57 PM / in 8 years

TSX lifted by rally in energy shares

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index shot to its highest close in more than three weeks on Monday as a rally in oil prices helped power Suncor Energy and other oil and gas shares to comfortable gains.

Shares of Suncor, the biggest contributor to the index's gain, rose 3 percent to C$38.04, followed by oil company Canadian Natural Resources, which closed up 3.3 percent at C$72.49.

The rise in energy stocks came as the price of oil rose more than 3 percent on stronger-than-expected U.S. consumer spending data and a weaker greenback.

Gold-mining shares were also instrumental in the TSX's second straight higher close as gold prices touched a record high near $1,135 an ounce.

That helped lift Barrick Gold Corp shares 2.3 percent to C$46.15, while Goldcorp followed with a gain of 1 percent to C$46.75.

"It looks like we followed U.S. markets higher today, but in Canada we are also being helped by the fact that the U.S. dollar continues to slide and that has pushed commodity prices higher," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. "So the upside is being led by the materials and energy issues."

The greenback was dragged down by rosier-than-expected U.S. retail sales data for October, which boosted economic optimism and eroded the U.S. dollar's safe-haven appeal.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed 104.58 points, or 0.92 percent, higher at 11,512.26. That marked its highest close since October 22.

The TSX jumped at the open and held within a tight range for the rest of the session with no key corporate news in Canada released to influence investor sentiment.

Westport Innovations Inc shares rose 12 percent to at C$13.00 as the developer of natural gas-fired engines said it signed a supply deal with Volvo AB.

Aecon Group Inc shares were also given a boost, rising 2.7 percent to C$13.54, after the construction company said it had been awarded one of its biggest contracts yet in Canada's oil sands.

The TSX is up a massive 54 percent since it tumbled to a five-year low in March. And some experts say more gains could be on the horizon ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday next week.

"This is typically the time of year when you begin to see a lot of strength in the markets, just around the time of U.S. Thanksgiving," Picardo said.

"But while we are on course to end the year on a strong note, next year is going to be a different story."

Editing by Peter Galloway

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