TORONTO (Reuters) - Resource shares pushed Canada's main stock index to a 10-month high on Thursday as robust trade data from China signaled a pickup in global demand and boosted commodity prices.
Investors were also encouraged by the European Central Bank's decision to hold interest rates at a record low and by ECB comments that the euro zone economy will recover later in 2013.
The index's materials sector, which includes mining stocks, jumped 2.2 percent with gold companies making the biggest gains on a rally in gold prices. <GOL/>
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) added 3.6 percent to C$36.68, Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) gained 2.3 percent to C$33.95, and Yamana Gold Inc (YRI.TO) surged 5.8 percent to C$17.26. The three stocks were the most influential names in leading the index higher.
Data on Thursday showed China's exports hit a seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after seven straight quarters of slowdown.
"Any indication that the Chinese economy is starting to perk up is helping the markets," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of Richardson GMP, in Vancouver.
"We're going to see fits and starts. There's probably not going to be a straight line. But in the medium term, there's some good momentum," he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 77.50 points, or 0.62 percent, at 12,599.74. Eight of the 10 main sectors positive. Financials and health care stocks were flat. The index hit an intraday high of 12,618.43, its strongest level since March 2012.
The energy sector was up 0.4 percent as U.S. crude oil futures reached a 14-week high on the Chinese data and on news that Saudi Arabia was cutting its crude oil production. <O/R>. In the group, Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) rose 0.9 percent to C$33.58.
"We don't think it's going to be a blockbuster year, but it could be a better year for energy stocks in particular, and hopefully some material stocks," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung Investment Management.
With additional reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz