* TSX rises 66.61 points, or 0.54 percent, to 12,379.36
* Financial, material stocks lead rally
* Relief among some investors storm damage wasn’t worse
* Yamana climbs after maintaining production outlook
By John Tilak
TORONTO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose on Tuesday, led higher by financial and energy stocks on lighter than usual volumes, as investors sought to gauge the impact of monster storm Sandy on the United States.
Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country, left at least 18 people dead and caused significant power disruptions, though some market players had expected even more devastation.
“It’s a pretty broad-based move. It reflects some relief that the storm hasn’t caused as much damage as people had expected,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
After opening lower, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 66.61 points, or 0.54 percent, at 12,379.36 by midafternoon.
The index at one point hit 12,390.48, its highest level since Oct. 23. All the ten main subgroups within the index were positive.
Financials, up 0.6 percent, played the biggest role of any sector in lifting the market, led by Royal Bank of Canada , up 0.85 percent to C$56.83.
Materials stocks were up 0.9 percent, helped by gains in gold companies. Goldcorp Inc was up 1.5 percent at C$45.32. Barrick Gold Corp rose 1.29 percent to C$40.11.
Yamana Gold Inc shares rose more than 3 percent after the miner on Monday reported results, maintained its production outlook for the year and said its development projects are on time and on budget.
Some energy stocks were also among the biggest gainers.
Suncor Energy Inc was up 1.51 percent at C$33.60, playing the biggest role of any one stock in leading the market higher.
Canadian Oil Sands Ltd also supported the move higher. Its shares were up 3 percent at C$21.19 after the company posted a 40 percent rise in third-quarter profit.
The energy sub group, one of the biggest on the index, was up 0.74 percent. Investors bought energy shares even though Brent crude prices fell.
“It’s a reminder that stuff happens, whether it is an act of God like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, or alternatively political uncertainty like the Iranian situation in the Persian Gulf,” said Gavin Graham, president of Graham Investment Strategy.
However, the Canadian market felt the effect of the closure of U.S. stock markets for the second straight day as trading volumes were light.
“The disruption caused by the storm with the closure of the financial markets in the United States is having the major effect,” Graham said. “Given how lackluster the trading is, how low the volumes are, people are very reluctant to take positions.”
By mid-afternoon, volume on the Toronto exchange was a sparse 74 million, versus the 356.4 million daily average in September, the last complete month of statistics provided by the exchange.