* TSX up 0.32 percent to close at 11,433.37
* Up 3 pct since hitting 8-mth closing low on Monday
* Most sectors turn higher late, gold group main drag
* U.S. jobless claims drop, offer hope for recovery (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, July 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed higher on Thursday after a see-saw session, helped by stronger oil prices and U.S. data that boosted confidence in the global economic recovery.
A bigger than expected decline in U.S. jobless claims was welcome news after a wave of weak reports had stirred chatter that the U.S. economy was headed back into recession. [ID:nN08209499]
The jobless claims data provided “lift-off” for the market, while firmer commodity prices, a rebounding euro, and upbeat company outlooks also helped to shore up confidence, said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
“All of a sudden, risk is back on the table and people are maybe saying the market has overreacted to the possibility of a double-dip recession,” he said.
Additionally, first details surrounding Europe’s bank stress tests heartened investors who saw criteria for the checks were no worse than markets expected. [ID:nLDE6670LN]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 36.10 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 11,433.37, its third straight day of gains. The index is up about 3 percent since closing at its lowest level in eight months at the start of the week.
Eight of the index’s 10 main sectors were higher, with most reversing losses late in the session. The move followed rallying U.S. stocks, which also rose for a third day.
The oil and gas group, up 1.22 percent, led TSX advancers as the price of oil bounced above $75 a barrel, supported by a global rally in riskier assets and an industry report showing a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories. [O/R]
That helped boost big-name energy issues such as Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO, up 2.43 percent at C$36.69, while EnCana ECA.TO rose 2.71 percent to C$34.06.
Banking stocks were up 0.47 percent. Analysts say Canadian bank stocks may appear cheap after a recent decline and could outperform the broader market over the next year on the back of appealing dividends and a modest earnings recovery. [ID:nN08234554]
Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO was up 1.2 percent at C$53.08, while Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO rose 0.8 percent to C$49.70.
Offsetting gains on Thursday were gold issues, as the metal price held below $1,200 an ounce. Growing optimism over the global economy limited investor interest in the precious metal and other safe-haven assets. [GOL/]
“There’s a little profit-taking in that sector. It’s certainly had a good run. It’s been one of the better sectors in the last little while,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
The S&P/TSX global gold index .SPTTGD, which tracks mid- to large-sized gold miners in several markets, fell 2.09 percent. The broader materials group, home to gold issues, was off 0.61 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO fell 3.39 percent to C$44.41, while Goldcorp Inc G.TO slid 2.4 percent to C$42.30.
In individual company news, Cott Corp BCB.TO shares finished 3.2 percent higher at C$6.19 after the world’s largest maker of private-label soft drinks said it would buy U.S.-based Cliffstar Corp. [ID:nN08210569]
Grain handler Viterra VT.TO slid 0.97 percent to C$7.11 after it said Western Canadian farmers may have seeded up to 17 percent fewer acres than average this spring because of record rains, holding back its third-quarter performance. [ID:nN08216796]
$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson