TSX closes up, puts in best year since 1979

Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:10pm EST
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose on Thursday as strength in financials outweighed weakness in mining and energy stocks and helped the index put in its best year since 1979.

Bank shares were among the top index winners, helped by U.S. economic data that showed a surprise drop in weekly U.S. jobless claims.

Toronto-Dominion Bank was the biggest gainer of the day. It rose 0.9 percent to C$65.96. Royal Bank of Canada was up 0.5 percent at C$56.40, and Bank of Montreal gained 1 percent to C$55.85.

It was the fourth consecutive daily gain for financials.

"It's the old story that Canada is not as affected by the shenanigans in the States," said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities. "And where else are you going to get that kind of yield and potential for growth?"

Energy shares started the day higher, but fell as investors took profits and the price of natural gas declined after U.S. data showed a much smaller-than-expected drawdown from winter inventories.

Suncor Energy was the biggest loser on the index, down 0.9 percent at C$37.21, while EnCana shed 0.4 percent to C$34.11.

Another piece of U.S. data may have also played into the weakness in energy stocks and in a downturn in the index's materials sector as well, Masionis said.   Continued...

<p>Bay Street signs are seen in the heart of the financial district in Toronto, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>