Toronto stocks boosted by banks

Thu May 1, 2008 5:28pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index charged higher on Thursday, helped by an afternoon rally in financials amid further optimism that the worst of the credit troubles has already passed.

The positive tone eclipsed a selloff in commodities, which had dragged the resource-heavy Toronto benchmark lower earlier in the day.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO rose C$2.58, or 3.5 percent, to C$76.75, and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO added C$2.00, or 3 percent, to C$68.11, as the sector overall pushed up 2.2 percent.

Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd., in Calgary, said investors were taking confidence from the U.S. Federal Reserve's suggestion on Wednesday that it could pause in its aggressive campaign of interest rate cuts.

"I think the message the market can glean from that is that the Fed feels that the risks to growth have abated enough, so the market's starting to take a more positive look of later in the year," he said.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 128.77 points, or 0.92 percent, at 14,065.81 after hitting a session low of 13,846.57.

Autoparts maker Magna International MGa.TO also propped the index up after it reported first-quarter profit that beat analysts' expectations and upped its sales outlook for the year. Shares of Magna surged C$5.85, or 7.9 percent, to C$80.10.

Loblaw Cos L.TO advanced C$1.34, or 4.2 percent, to C$33.17 a day after it reported higher earnings. Shares of George Weston WN.TO, which is the majority owner of Loblaw, gained C$2.45, or 5.1 percent, to C$50.95, and helped propel the consumer staples group up 3 percent.   Continued...