* TSX up 21.30 points, or 0.18 percent, at 11,996.44
* Energy keeps TSX higher; gold miners weigh
* Convention puts Canadian miners in spotlight (Adds details, quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock market index pushed higher on Monday morning, touching its highest level in eight weeks as rising oil prices helped to lift energy shares.
“I think people are a little more optimistic of the global economic recovery. If that is the case that is going to be stronger demand for natural resources,” said Bruce Latimer, trader at Dundee Securities.
At 10:08 a.m. (1508 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 21.30 points, or 0.18 percent, at 11,996.44. At the open, the index pierced 12,000 and touched its highest level since Jan. 11.
Also supporting the index’s move higher was BCE Inc (BCE.TO), which rose 0.7 percent to C$30.60 after Barron’s cited BCE’s potential for dividend increases and share buybacks. [ID:nN07134941]
Research In Motion RIM.TO climbed 2.9 percent to C$73.61 after a broker upgrade. [CA-RCH]
After piercing 12,000, the index is likely to drift into a consolidation period over the next few days, Latimer said.
“I think 12,000 is an important level — it’s a psychological level,” he said.
“The market has been pretty strong already in the first week of March and we’re coming into two weeks of March break holiday. Volumes are a little light already. I wouldn’t expect the market to move too far in either direction.”
The materials sector, home to miners and fertilizer companies, kept gains in check, falling 0.2 percent with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) down 0.8 percent at C$41.20 as gold prices sagged. [GOL/]
Shares of Quadra Mining QUA.TO shot 5.4 percent higher to C$16.37. Quadra said on Monday it agreed to form a joint venture with China’s largest utility company to develop its huge Sierra Gorda project in Chile, expected to cost more than $2 billion. [ID:nN08165352]
Canadian mining companies could also attract some attention this week, with the annual PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) convention in Toronto drawing more than 20,000 miners, analysts, and resource pundits. [ID:nN07142200]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway