TSX rises as resources show strength

Thu Feb 5, 2009 4:49pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed higher for a third straight session on Thursday in a broad rally led by strength in the key energy and materials groups, which rose on higher commodity prices.

Materials, home to mining and fertilizer companies, rose 4.2 percent and led the index higher. Among heavily weighted gainers were miner Barrick Gold ABX.TO, up 4.2 percent at C$47.65, and fertilizer producer Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, the top net gainer, which rose 8.7 percent to C$106.10.

The oil and gas group rose 1.9 percent as the price of crude settled higher at $41.17 a barrel on hopes for a U.S. stimulus plan. EnCana Corp ECA.TO was up 2.8 percent at C$55.70.

Also helping the index higher was the big financial services sector, which fought back from a 1.6 percent drop to finish the day up 1.8 percent, in part on optimism over a possible plan to shore up the ailing U.S. banking sector. Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO rose 2 percent to C$31.24.

Mining stocks were higher despite softness in base metals prices, which could be a sign that investors are pricing in the prospect of recovery, said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse.

"I do think you have some nibbling there," he said. "It's a combination of the supply response and people looking ahead."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 167.89 points, or 1.93 percent, at 8,860.98, with nine of its 10 main groups higher. Earlier, it dropped nearly 1 percent.

The lone sector in the red was utilities, down 0.3 percent.

Husky Energy HSE.TO, Canada's No. 2 oil producer and refiner, fell 1.8 percent to C$29.40 after it reported lower quarterly results and chopped its dividend.   Continued...

<p>A general view of the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>