May 8, 2008 / 2:58 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks surge on robust resources

(Updates to midmorning)

TORONTO, May 8 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index powered higher on Thursday, boosted by gains in the resource sector after oil prices rose and gold prices firmed.

Gold miner Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) rose C$2.76, or 4.4 percent, to C$65.51, and Goldcorp (G.TO) was up C$1.76, or 4.7 percent, at C$39.46, while the subindex of gold producers put on 3.2 percent.

The gains helped push the resource-laden materials sector up 0.9 percent.

Oil and gas producers climbed after the price of oil hit a new high near $124 a barrel before easing back off. The sector added 1.7 percent, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was up C$3.07, or 2.5 percent, at C$124.07 and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) advanced C$2.10, or 2.3 percent, to C$93.91.

“The energy stocks are helping us out yet again,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments. “It seems to be we’re back in the commodities story.”

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 86.12 points, or 0.6 percent, at 14,457.65 in the morning with all but one of its 10 main sectors higher.

Shares of Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) added 67 Canadian cents, or 4.5 percent, to C$15.48, after the company said it had partnered with Irving Oil to take over the operation of 252 stores in Atlantic Canada and New England.

Air Canada ACa.TO slipped 15 Canadian cents, or 1.9 percent, to C$7.90 after Canada’s biggest airline reported a wider first-quarter loss.

Also on the earnings front, Canadian Tire (CTCa.TO) said its first-quarter profit rose, but its earnings adjusted to exclude nonoperating gains and losses declined nearly 5 percent. Shortly after reporting, shares of Canadian Tire were down C$2.50, or 3.8 percent, at C$63.50.

The financial sector was the sole group on the downside, dipping 0.8 percent.

Hutcheon said some profit-taking was hampering the Toronto benchmark but said he expected to see more strength heading into next week.

“I think the market overall is in a consolidation phase,” said Hutcheon. “I think there’s a little profit-taking going on given the magnitude of the moves we’ve seen off the March lows.” ($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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