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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed higher on Wednesday, swinging back from a five-week low hit earlier in the day, as gold prices climbed and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce unveiled results that topped market expectations.
Big names on the upside included gold miners Barrick Gold, up 3.3 percent at C$47.96, and Goldcorp, which soared 3.7 percent to C$44.60 as the price of bullion rose. The index's materials sector, home to fertilizer companies and miners, rose 2 percent.
Financials gained as CIBC reported a strong third-quarter profit, relieving some concern about bank results after Bank of Montreal reported a weaker-than-expected profit on Tuesday. Shares of CIBC, the top net gainer on the market, climbed 4.9 percent to C$70.08.
"CIBC's results beat expectations and have taken the sting out of the weaker BMO numbers," said John Johnston, chief strategist for Harbour Group at RBC Dominion Securities.
"It's kind of feeding a better view on the Canadian banks."
Royal Bank of Canada was up 1.2 percent at C$50.69, and Bank of Montreal rose 1.5 percent to C$56.34. Toronto-Dominion Bank edged 0.3 percent higher to C$69.63, while Bank of Nova Scotia shot up 1.7 percent to C$50.44.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended the day up 90.77 points, or 0.79 percent, at 11,648.12, with seven of its 10 main sectors higher.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index closed 5.73 points, or 0.85 percent, higher at 678.33.
Earlier in the session it hit its lowest point since July 21 at 11,469.25 on gathering worries over the outlook for the global economy, underscored by U.S. data.
New U.S. home sales hit a record low in July and orders for durable goods were weak, heightening fears the U.S. economy was at risk of a new downturn.
The economic weakness was a key factor driving up the price of gold as a safe-haven play, said RBC's Johnston.
"There's an element of fear creeping back into the system. Precious metals have a history of doing well in times of turmoil," he said.
"The behavior over history has reinforced the message of the gold bugs that gold is a safe asset to own in times of upset."
Takeover target Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, a top net decliner, dropped 2.1 percent to C$154.51 as BHP Billiton tried to damp expectations it would sweeten its hostile $39-billion $130-a-share offer for the world's largest potash producer.
The stock had been pushed up in recent sessions on market speculation it would attract a higher takeover bid from BHP Billiton, or possibly another player.
"The longer nothing comes out of another suitor the more cautious the market is going to be," said Anil Tahiliani, portfolio manager at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd in Calgary.
Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway