May 31, 2008 / 5:54 AM / in 9 years

Strong resources push Toronto stocks higher

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index pushed almost 1 percent higher on Friday as it rode the strength of resource issues, which benefited from firm commodity prices.

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

Energy companies got a boost as crude finished a see-saw session higher. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained C$1.99, or 2.1 percent, to C$97.24, while Imperial Oil IMO.TO rose C$1.05, or 1.9 percent, to C$57.75.

The oil and gas group added 1.4 percent overall, while the resource-laden materials sector pushed up 2.4 percent with help from an advance in precious metals prices.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) climbed C$2.39, or 3.5 percent, to C$70.35, and fertilizer company Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) was up C$2.75, or 1.4 percent, at C$197.33.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 137.56 points, or 0.94 percent, to 14,714.73 with six of its 10 main sectors in an upswing. The benchmark had briefly surged more than 200 points in the late afternoon, before paring gains.

The financial sector contributed a lift of 0.5 percent following a bout of quarterly results from the major banks through the week.

Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri, said the banks largely came in as expected, with the exception of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO), which reported a big loss on charges for worsening structured-credit positions.

The financial sector has been beaten up by fallout from the credit crunch, but Canadian banks have not seen the massive writedowns that U.S. and overseas institutions have had to take.

“I think there’s some relief just because there’s always some worry, even though everyone’s expecting them to increase reserves and provisions for loan loss,” said Warne.

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

“But, other than CIBC, there were no major surprises.”

On Friday, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rose C$1.94, or 2.8 percent, to C$71.89, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) gained C$1.25, or 2.4 percent, to C$54.33.

On the downside, the technology group gave up 1.2 percent, with Celestica (CLS.TO) off 58 Canadian cents, or 6.2 percent, at C$8.78.

The market largely ignored data that showed Canada’s economy shrank unexpectedly in the first quarter for the first time in five years. The contraction could leave open the possibility of additional Bank of Canada interest rate cuts.

“The market has entirely ignored the GDP, and I think it’s more focused on the strength that we’re seeing with fewer concerns about weakness in the global economy, rather than worries about how weak the Canadian economy is,” said Warne.

The composite ended the week little changed, off just 0.1 percent, but it jumped 5.6 percent for the month in which it reached a record over the 15,000 level for the first time.

Market volume on Friday was 427 million shares worth C$8.5 billion. Advancers outpaced decliners 1,078 to 521. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 8.81 points, or 1.01 percent, at 878.42.

In New York, tech shares were boosted by solid results from computer maker Dell Inc DELL.O, which raised optimism over business and consumer spending, and helped the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index .IXIC up 14.34 points, or 0.57 percent, to 2,522.66.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended slightly lower as the gain in oil prices hurt sentiment and highlighted worries over U.S. inflation. The Dow closed down 7.90 points, or 0.06 percent, at 12,638.32.

$1=$0.99 Canadian

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