TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks rose for the first time in more than a week on Thursday as encouraging U.S. jobs data and slightly more positive conditions in Europe coaxed investors to snap up shares at beaten-down prices.
The United States reported claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, an upbeat sign after April's weak employment growth sparked fears of a worsening U.S. labor market.
"It's a fairly limited move," said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities, in Vancouver. "Nothing is running away either way."
Mady said he did not expect the modest gains to be a precursor of a larger rally, even though stocks were "oversold" during the recent six-session losing skid on the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index's .GSPTSE.
"Don't hold your breath for the next rally," Mady said.
Nearly all of the TSX's 10 main sectors were higher on Thursday. The downtrodden energy group led gains, rising 0.75 percent as U.S. crude halted its own six-day losing streak that had reduced the front-month June crude's value by 8.8 percent. <O/R>
The sector's most influential gainers included Suncor Energy (SU.TO), up 0.8 percent at C$29.30, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), up 1.5 percent to C$31.15, and Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO), which gained 2.1 percent to C$40.60.
Shares of Crescent Point Energy Corp (CPG.TO) climbed 3.6 percent to C$42.38 after Canada's No. 5 independent oil producer reported a smaller quarterly loss on Thursday compared with a year ago.
The TSX closed up 61.16 points, or 0.5 percent, at 11,736.17. The index was still down nearly 5 percent since the beginning of May.
Financial shares rose 0.5 percent on Thursday as Spain moved to aid its ailing banks and action on Greece reassured investors, following the market turmoil sparked by last weekend's elections in Greece and France.
"We had it ugly there for a while because we had the oils and banks going down," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.
Shares of Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) jumped 1.9 percent to C$22.55 after Canada's No. 3 insurer said Thursday it sees a fit with the Asian assets of big Dutch financial services firm ING Groep NV ING.AS, and would be willing to issue stock to finance a large acquisition.
Euro zone officials on Thursday said countries in the bloc are prepared to keep financing Greece until a new government is formed, whether one emerges from Sunday's election or if new elections have to be held next month.
Spanish markets also rebounded after the government effectively took over Bankia, one of the country's biggest banks, and said more measures to restore confidence in Spain's ailing banking system would be announced on Friday. <GVD/EUR>
The news offset concerns about demand for goods from China, the world's second biggest economy, after data on Thursday showed exports and imports in April grew at a far slower rate than forecast.
Canadian material stocks were up most of the day, before finishing flat. Top fertilizer producer Potash Corp (POT.TO) offset gains, dropping 1.5 percent to C$41. Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) fell 0.5 percent to C$35.42.
In other company news, Bombardier Inc's (BBDb.TO) shares spiked 7.3 percent to C$3.96 after the world's third biggest commercial plane maker said new orders are picking up and its backlog is healthy, despite reporting a sharp drop in quarterly sales and profit on Thursday.
Editing by Leslie Adler