* Energy issues follow price of crude higher, lead index
* TD, National Bank announce preferred share issues
* Gold miners drag on materials group (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended higher for a fifth straight session on Monday, supported by rising energy shares, which climbed along with oil prices, and by a rally in financials.
The oil and gas sector climbed 3.3 percent as the price of crude rose above $48 a barrel, helped up by worries over the effects of Israel’s attacks on Gaza and by Russia’s dispute with Ukraine over natural gas prices.
“Commodities in general are doing a little bit better, not just the energy, even some of the base metals are showing some signs of life, and the agriculturals are picking up a little bit,” said Levente Mady, broker at MF Global Canada, in Vancouver.
“The main thing on the energy side there is the Israeli conflict and Russia cutting off supplies.”
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 51.40 points, or 0.56 percent, at 9,285.51, building on last week’s 11 percent surge. Half of the index’s 10 main groups were higher on Monday. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 4.13 points higher, or 0.74 percent, at 560.96.
The main index started the session lower as gold prices weighed, but then ground higher, up more than 1 percent at midafternoon on climbing energy and financials, before slowly paring the gains late in the session.
The financial group was up 1.7 percent, led by Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), the biggest mover on the overall index. The insurer rose 8.4 percent to C$22.74. It was joined by gains in Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), both of which announced preferred share offerings. [ID:nN05350432]
“We also had some pretty good financings this morning. The yields on them are quite high on them,” said Steve Ibel, an institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Overall sentiment was lifted by a meeting involving Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney with country’s top bank executives on Monday to urge the banks loosen up lending to try to get the economy moving. [ID:nN05387473] Flaherty may comment on the talks on Tuesday.
Also, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for $310 billion in tax cuts as part of a rescue package of up to $775 billion helped to buoy sentiment for the financials.
The falling price of gold dragged the materials group down 3.6 percent but rises in some base metal-mining stocks and fertilizer producers helped cushion the blow from retreating gold-mining issues.
Shares of Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), the biggest drag on the index, were down 6.7 percent at C$40.78, while Goldcorp (G.TO) shares fell 8.8 percent to C$34.72. Diversified miner Teck Cominco TCKb.TO gained 16.8 percent to C$8.20, while fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO rose 4 percent to C$98.50.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks fell as investors booked profits after last week’s 6 percent runup. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 81.80 points, or 0.91 percent, to 8,952.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 4.18 points, or 0.26 percent, to 1,628.03.
$1=$1.19 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway