* TSX up 50.22 points, or 0.36 percent, at 14,166.32
* Nine of the 10 index’s main groups higher (Updates with details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was higher on Friday morning as oil prices rose and strong March U.S. jobs data provided encouragement that economic recovery is gathering steam.
The U.S. employment report showed a second straight month of gains and the jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent. [ID:nOAT004775]
The United States is Canada’s biggest trading partner and a healthy economy south of the border is positive for Canadian companies.
The index’s oil and gas sector was up 0.73 percent as oil prices rose strongly early in the session on signs that the conflict in Libya would continue to keep Libyan oil off the market.
Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) led blue-chip stocks with a 1.8 percent gain to C$50.43, while Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO) was up 1.8 percent at C$60.49.
Analysts were cautious about the impact of rising oil prices, however.
“There does come a point — we may have already reached it — where (high oil prices) does start to bite into that consumer spending power,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
“You have view the rising price of oil as inflationary for a lot of the businesses — when you look at mining companies and such, where oil is 30-40 percent of their operating budget. It does come a point the rising oil price can be seen as bad for the economy.”
At 10:24 a.m. (1424 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 50.22 points, or 0.36 percent, at 14,166.32. Nine of the index’s 10 main sectors were higher.
Bucking the trend were gold miners, which fell 1.02 percent as the strong U.S. jobs data pushed up the U.S. dollar and lessened gold’s safe-haven appeal. [GOL/] The materials group, home to mining companies, was the lone declining index sector, down 0.28 percent.
Goldcorp (G.TO) was off 1.37 percent at C$47.68, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) slipped 0.85 percent to C$49.96. Agnico Eagle tumbled 3.6 percent to C$62.13.
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)