* TSX closes up 100.25 points at 11,828.31
* Materials, financials lead index higher (Adds quotes, details)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 2 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index closed higher on Tuesday as commodity prices rallied and impressive quarterly results from Bank of Montreal BMO.TO lifted the index’s heavily weighted financial sector.
The strong performance for Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth-largest bank, sent its shares up 3.9 percent to C$58.85.
The rest of the index’s financial sector also rose as three stronger-than-expected bank results in a row -- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada reported last week -- raised expectations that the worst of credit woes are behind the nation’s big lenders. [ID:nN02136197]
Also helping the index rise, the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate at a record low of 0.25 percent on Tuesday [ID:nN02149877], while a report on Monday showing robust fourth-quarter economic growth continued to play a supporting role. [ID:nN01242801]
“It’s one of the days when everything seems to be going right for the TSX,” said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“We continue to see follow-through buying from yesterday’s exceptional GDP report and as far as today is concerned the Bank of Canada rate announcement didn’t have anything that could rattle the markets.”
Firm gold and oil prices also provided support. Bullion prices rallied to a six-week high in dollar terms and hit record highs versus sterling and the euro. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, the world’s largest gold producer, was up 2.3 percent at C$40.95, while Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO added 1.7 percent to C$31.10 after Deutsche Bank raised its rating for Canada’s largest energy company.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 100.25 points, or 0.85 percent, at 11,828.31.
Shares of potash producers were up on reports that Russia is mulling a 15 percent export duty on potash exports, a move that could boost global prices. Potash Corp POT.TO, the world’s largest producer of the crop nutrient, was up 1.5 percent at C$119.65. [ID:nN02173946]
Torstar Corp TSb.TO surged 15.5 percent at C$7.25 after brokerage TD Newcrest upgraded the stock to its top sector pick. [ID:nN02174766]
Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics, partly credited the index’s second straight session of gains to signs of progress in securing European financial backing for Greece.
Greece’s borrowing costs fell to their lowest level in weeks as its government is expected to announce new austerity measures to win European debt guarantees. [ID:nLDE6211MB].
However, Smith noted North American investors are still cautious ahead of key U.S. employment data at the end of the week.
“The recent string of U.S. data has generally disappointed the market and the expectation now is that we’ll see a negative print for U.S. payrolls on Friday, so I think after the recent rebound in stocks, that’s becoming a bit more of a headwind for the markets.”
$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney, editing by Peter Galloway