* TSX rises 40.09 points to 12,740.47
* Materials, financial groups lift index
* SNC-Lavalin shares plunge 21 pct
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index climbed on Tuesday as resource issues gained on higher metals prices and U.S. confidence data helped lift market sentiment.
The index’s heavily weighted materials group led the gains, climbing 1.4 percent as mining issues benefited from rises in gold, silver and copper prices.
No. 2 Canadian gold producer Goldcorp was the market leader, rising 2.9 percent to C$49.77 as bullion prices raced toward $1,800 an ounce. Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold miner, was up 1.5 percent at C$49.25.
A surge in silver prices pushed Silver Wheaton shares up 2.9 percent to C$39.69.
U.S. consumer confidence rose to a one-year high in February, according to a survey that reflected optimism about the labor market as well as worries that rising oil prices could hurt the economy.
Consumer confidence is key in the United States as consumer spending makes up more than two-thirds of economic activity.
“It’s very important because if you think the future looks a little better then you’re willing to buy stocks or avoid selling stocks,” said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities. “There’s still cash on the sidelines and in the bond market.”
The impact of the consumer confidence reading was tempered by data showing orders for U.S. durable goods fell the most in three years in January. Another report showed a decline in home prices in December.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose along with U.S. stocks. Toronto finished the day up 40.09 points, or 0.32 percent, at 12,740.47.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index closed 2.58 points higher at 725.21.
Financial issues climbed 0.6 percent, supported by a better-than-expected rise in Bank of Montreal’s quarterly earnings. BMO was the first Canadian bank to report its latest quarterly results and finished the day up nearly 1 percent at C$58.56.
Shares of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc skidded 21 percent to C$38.43 after it said it was investigating tens of millions of dollars of mysterious payments. It also warned that the impact of Libya’s civil war would push its 2011 profit well below earlier forecasts, and that it could delay the release of its quarterly results.
Thompson Creek Metals tumbled 15.7 percent to C$7.3 on Tuesday, a day after the miner said the cost of building its Mt. Milligan mine in British Columbia would rise as much as 20 percent. Various analysts either cut their price targets or rating on the company’s shares.