April 7, 2008 / 2:50 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Investor optimism boosts Toronto stocks 1.3 pct

(Adds details, comments, updates trading)

TORONTO, April 7 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index raced higher on Monday as investors started the week in a positive mood and firm commodity prices underpinned the market.

By mid-morning the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 171.36 points, or 1.3 percent, at 13,839.55, off an earlier high of 13,873.44.

Nine of the TSX index’s 10 main groups rose, led by a 2.6 percent boost in the resource-heavy materials group and a 2.1 percent rise in the influential energy sector. Financial shares, which make up about 30 percent of the index, were up 0.4 percent.

The key index gained 117 points on Friday for a total rise of 3.3 percent in all of last week.

“We’re seeing some of the longer-term investors beginning to pick away at some of the stocks that have been depressed and until the next round of headlines hits, this will probably continue,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung and Co Investment Counsel.

“We’re seeing gold, copper and oil all up and even the financials have been acting better and that should all be good news for the Canadian market.”

Materials shares rode the coattails of a rise in the price of gold by more than 1 percent to $925.60 an ounce. Firm oil prices and the positive market sentiment prompted investors to move into gold, traditionally seen as a hedge against inflation.

Goldcorp (G.TO) added 79 Canadian cents to C$41.59 and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), the world’s biggest producer, gained C$1.04 Canadian cents to C$45.13.

Meanwhile, other resource issues also helped, including Fording Canadian Coal Trust FDG_u.TO which gained C$4.79 to C$62.49 and Potash Corp POT.TO, which rose C$4.25 to C$176.82.

Financial shares strengthened on news that Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N) is close to securing a $5 billion cash infusion that may allay worries about mortgage losses at the largest U.S. savings and loan company.

Shares of Washington Mutual jumped 15 percent before the bell, after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. private equity firm TPG and other investors were near a deal to invest in the company.

All of the country’s biggest banks rose, including Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), which added 40 Canadian cents to C$47.14 and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO), which rose 66 Canadian cents to C$68.26.

The lightly weighted healthcare group was the only sector in negative territory as investors shifted their money out of the group generally seen as a defensive area.

Cardiome Pharma COM.TO was down 14 Canadian cents at C$8.05 and Biovail Corp BVF.TO dropped 9 Canadian cents to C$11.20.

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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