* TSX up 20.08 points, or 0.15 percent, at 13,811.93
* Seven of the 10 main groups finish higher (Adds details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed modestly higher on Monday as financial shares gained on increased confidence in economic recovery, but energy shares dropped as oil prices eased.
Among financial shares, Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) was up 1.65 percent at C$19.15, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) rose 1.02 percent to C$59.50, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) advanced 0.53 percent to C$58.60.
The financials group, which makes up nearly 30 percent of the index, rose 0.38 percent, its fifth rise in the past six sessions.
“It seems the financial side of the equation is continuing on its recent strength. It’s driven on global positive sentiment... worldwide positive growth,” said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada.
Data in January showed signs that the economic recovery was gathering steam, particularly in the United States, which has encouraged stock markets higher. In New York, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average both hit 2-1/2 year highs on Monday.
The Toronto Stock Exchange S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 20.08 points, or 0.15 percent, to finish the day at 13,811.93.
Seven of the index’s 10 main groups finished higher. Technology stocks gained 0.7 percent. Other gainers included the materials group, home to mining companies, which was up 0.42 percent.
Fertilizer giants Potash Corp (POT.TO) and Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) both helped pull the materials group higher. Potash was the biggest blue chip gainer, rising 1.51 percent to C$181.87. Agrium, which will report quarterly earnings on Wednesday, rose 2.22 percent to C$92.51.
Oil and gas stocks dropped 0.3 percent.
Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) fell 1.35 percent to C$44.58, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) slipped 0.54 percent to C$40.39.
Crude prices fell as concerns eased over Egypt’s political crisis and how it might affect oil flows in the Middle East. Rising U.S. inventories also weighed. [O/R]
“Turbulance fading off in Egypt and warmer weather expected is bringing both oil and natgas prices down,” Campeau said.
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)