TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX finished a volatile week higher on Friday with broad gains backed by a rise in the price of key metals and optimism that Canada's economic recovery is on track.
The index's materials group rose 1.13 percent as gold hit its highest level this year, boosting shares of Barrick Gold Corp, the world's biggest gold producer, which gained 0.95 percent to C$41.49. Kinross Gold jumped 1.63 percent to C$18.67.
Other metals prices, including copper, which neared $8,000 a tone, were also firmer, helping base metals miner Teck Resources gain 1.7 percent to C$45.97.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished 63.31 points, or 0.52 percent, higher at 12,176.84. It was up 0.2 percent on the week, its fourth straight weekly gain, after hitting an 18-month high on Monday.
Data showed fewer Canadians returned to work in March than expected but the three-month hiring trend was the strongest since the financial crisis intensified in the autumn of 2008, suggesting economic recovery is entrenched.
"Any month we are creating jobs is positive," said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
"I wouldn't say we are in a full-blown recovery but we're certainly off the bottom nicely."
The improving economy theme was also noted in the United States, with the Dow surpassing 11,000 for the first time since September 2008, as Chevron Corp gave an upbeat outlook and data showed wholesale inventories rose more than expected in February.
The Toronto market could gather momentum next week as U.S. first-quarter earnings season starts. Canada's corporate reporting season isn't in full swing for a few weeks, though a few tech and media companies have released earnings, including Shaw Communications Inc on Friday.
"I think the companies in general are going to beat expectations," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier.
"In the short term it still looks quite good to me without any dramatic moves in interest rates, earnings look like they'll be ratcheted up again, and Greece seems to be out of the way here."
Concerns about Greece's debt problems eased as speculation mounted that policymakers had reached an deal on terms for possible emergency loans.
Among individual stocks, Shoppers Drug Mart slid for a second day as investors continued to assess the fallout from the province of Ontario's plan to reduce generic drug prices.
Shoppers, Canada's biggest drugstore chain, was down 1.72 percent at C$38.25 on Friday and has lost more than 11 percent over two sessions.
Alimentation Couche-Tard rose 3.85 percent to C$18.90 on news that it has offered to buy Casey's General Stores to expand its presence in the United States. The target company rejected the $1.85 billion offer as opportunistic.
Shares of Research In Motion gained 0.64 percent to C$70.25, after the BlackBerry maker said it will acquire the QNX Software unit from Harman International.
Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway