* TSX up 50.43 points at 12,201.49
* Highest level since Sept. 2008
* Energy, materials lead index higher
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index hit an 18-month high on Monday as oil prices climbed towards $86 a barrel and strong U.S. jobs data boosted hopes for a sustained economic recovery.
Crude futures also hit an 18-month high on Monday, sending the TSX’s heavily weighted energy sector up 1.7 percent. [O/R]
Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO shot up 2.5 percent to C$35.18 and Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO jumped 2.2 percent to C$79.93.
At 10:23 a.m. (1423 GMT) The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 50.43 points, or 0.42 percent, at 12,201.40, its highest level since September 2008.
”Don’t short a dull market, said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal.
“It’s going to continue to slowly grind higher. I don’t expect any big swing.”
Campeau added that with most European markets closed on Monday for an extended Easter long weekend, market volumes are extremely light and North American investors are still digesting U.S. jobs data from Friday.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose at the fastest pace in three years, the strongest signal yet that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining a solid footing. [ID:nN01126422]
Among Monday’s gainers on the TSX, materials edged up 0.5 percent on firm metal prices, with Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, the world’s biggest gold producer, rising 0.7 percent to C$39.97 and Teck Resources TCKb.TO adding 1.2 percent to C$45.95.
Also whetting risk appetite was data on Monday that showed the U.S. services sector grew in March at its fastest pace in nearly four years, while pending home sales rose, suggesting ongoing improvement in the economy. [ID:nN05176113]
The positive sentiment and higher oil price helped lift the Canadian dollar, which climbed to a 20-month high against the U.S. dollar, its highest point since parity was reached in July 2008. [CAD/]
Among the decliners, financials were off 0.3 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO easing 0.4 percent to C$59.56, and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO off 0.8 percent at C$74.47.
$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson