* TSX up 37.19 points, or 0.26 percent, at 14,173.6
* Index at almost three-year high
* Six of the index’s 10 main groups firmer (Updates with details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose to its highest level in almost three years on Tuesday morning as firming commodity prices pushed up its resource sectors.
With gold prices inching back toward recent highs on safe-haven buying spurred by the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, miner Goldcorp (G.TO) was up 3 percent at C$47.80, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) rose 1.89 percent to C$52.25. The index’s materials group, home to gold miners, was up 0.85 percent. [GOL/]
The Middle East tension also lifted oil prices, giving Toronto’s energy shares a boost. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) led blue-chip gainers with a 1.12 percent rise to C$46.17. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) climbed 1.13 percent to C$51.05. The energy group, which makes up roughly a quarter of the index, was up 0.26 percent.
Brent crude oil futures were above $113 a barrel after an Egyptian newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia had sent tanks to neighboring Bahrain in an attempt to quell protests. A Saudi official denied the report. [ID:nLDE7201OZ] [O/R]
At 10:24 (1524 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 37.19 points, or 0.26 percent, at 14,173.69, its best showing since July 2008. Six of the TSX’s 10 main groups were higher.
“There are increased tensions again out in the Middle East. There were jitters about some Saudi unrest...Gold is testing its recent high,” said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada.
“So all these sectors explain why we’re outperforming the U.S. markets.”
The index’s financial group was down 0.1 percent, reversing earlier gains. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), which posted an 18 percent profit rise on Tuesday, was up 0.42 percent at C$62.22. [ID:nL3E7E11E7]
The market was monitoring congressional testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday for any surprise comments. [ID:nLDE72024L]
“The market is expecting him to remain dovish (on interest rates). It’s really priced in, but it could be a market mover (if Bernanke surprises),” Campeau said.
The market had expected the Bank of Canada’s announcement on Tuesday that it would leave interest rates unchanged and was unmoved by it. [ID:nN01279267] [CA/POLL]
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)