(Adds analyst quotes and details on Reuters poll, Bank of Canada rate decision, stocks and background, updates prices)
* TSX ends up 111.95 points, or 0.74 percent, at 15,237.75
* Index reaches its highest since May 2015
* Eight of the TSX’s 10 main groups end higher
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index jumped to a 19-month high on Wednesday as gains for sectors that benefit most from stronger economic growth offset a drop in energy shares prompted by lower oil prices.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 111.95 points, or 0.74 percent, at 15,237.75, its highest since May 2015.
“We are seeing a more offensive behavior in the market” as investors bet on higher growth and inflation, said Sid Mokhtari, director, institutional equity research, CIBC World Markets.
The financials group rose 0.8 percent, industrials gained 1 percent and information technology was up 2.1 percent.
“These (sectors) are your typical leaders that you want to see in a strong market,” Mokhtari said.
The index has rallied 32 percent since hitting a three-year low in January and is up 17 percent for the year.
Financial strategists expect the index to rise more slowly in 2017 but to reach an all-time high by the end of next year if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s tax and spending plans boost economic growth, a Reuters poll found.
“I think this market does have durability still,” but stock and sector selection has become more important as the rally gets stretched,” said Mokhtari.
Bank of Montreal, which jumped on Tuesday after reporting solid earnings, added another 1.2 percent to C$93.14 as several banks upped their price targets on the stock.
Several other banks were among the most influential gainers.
Canadian National Railway advanced 2.1 to C$91.48, while automotive supplier Magna International Inc jumped 5.6 percent to C$60.83.
Eight of the index’s 10 main groups ended in positive territory, with the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, adding 0.7 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp rose 1.8 percent to C$20.92. The world’s largest gold producer said Latin America will play an increasingly important role in its growth strategy.
Gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,172.6 an ounce.
The energy group fell 0.7 percent as oil retreated on bearish U.S. petroleum inventory data and doubts that production cuts promised by OPEC and Russia would be deep enough to end a supply overhang.
U.S. crude oil futures settled $1.16 lower at $49.77 a barrel.
The Bank of Canada pointed to a “significant” amount of slack in the Canadian economy as it held interest rates steady, but also used language suggesting a rate cut is off the table as global growth picks up. (Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang)