February 1, 2008 / 10:26 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks rally to end week higher

(Updates official closing numbers. Adds details, quotes)

By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index climbed broadly higher on Friday, helped by robust energy and banking shares, solid earnings, and optimism over Microsoft’s takeover bid for Yahoo.

The energy and financials sectors led the way, gaining 1.5 percent and 1.6 percent respectively as investors sensed bargains after the market’s recent slump.

The banking sector was also boosted as investors continued digest the U.S. interest rate cut earlier in the week and were hopeful of another cut from the Bank of Canada.

Bank of Montreal BMO.TO gained C$1.32, or 2.3 percent, to C$58.07, while in the energy sector, Encana Corp ECA.TO was up C$1.33, or 2 percent, at C$67.52.

Oil and gas producers were also boosted by reports of massive profits at Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and Chevron Corp CVX.N on the back of record high oil prices.

“I think we got ourselves to a position that we were so oversold, we were due for a bounce,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

“All in all, given what we’ve gone through in the last two weeks to a month, there’s not a sufficient preponderance of negative (news) in the cards today to really prevent the market from carrying forward with its forward momentum.”

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 163.27 points, or 1.24 percent, at 13,318.37 with eight of its 10 main groups finishing higher. The index gained 3.3 percent on the week, and closed higher in four sessions.

Since the index pulled out of its five-day slump in mid-January, it was been moving higher, and has closed in negative territory in just two sessions.

TransAlta Corp TA.TO gained 62 Canadian cents, or 1.9 percent, to C$32.52 after it returned to profit in the fourth quarter and said it is looking at selling its Mexican power plants.

Sierra Wireless Inc SW.TO SWIR.O was up C$1.27, or 8.6 percent, at C$16.12 after reporting a fourth-quarter profit after markets closed on Thursday that beat forecasts.

Celestica Inc CLS.TO CLS.N also released its earnings after the bell on Thursday. The contract electronics manufacturer reported a smaller quarterly loss and higher-than-expected revenue, sending its shares up 76 Canadian cents, or 13 percent, to C$6.61.

The tech sector gained 1.5 percent on news of Microsoft Corp’s MSFT.O $44.6 billion takeover offer for Yahoo Inc YHOO.O.

The bid showed confidence in the tech sector and helped the market largely ignore weaker-than-expected U.S. payrolls data for January.

Elvis Picardo, investment strategist at Northern Securities Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the jobs numbers confirm the Unites States is “slowing down in a big way” and cautioned that it was unlikely there would be much more acquisition activity in the current financial climate.

“Definitely a deal like Microsoft-Yahoo gets a lot of excitement, but I‘m really not sure this is going to spark a new wave of M&A activity,” Picardo said. “The markets are simply too volatile and funding is still really difficult to get if there’s debt financing involved.”

On the downside, Biovail Corp BVF.TO BVF.N lost 46 Canadian cents, or 3.4 percent, to C$13.25 after it said it is being investigated by a U.S. federal grand jury in connection with the 2003 launch of its Cardizem LA heart drug.

Market volume was 487 million shares worth C$9.8 billion. Advancers outpaced decliners 972 to 549. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 6.45 points, or 0.83 percent, at 779.01.

In New York, stocks were buoyed by Microsoft’s offer, sending the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI up 92.83 points, or 0.73 percent, at 12,743.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 23.50 points, or 0.98 percent, to 2,413.36.

$1=$0.99 Canadian

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