February 8, 2008 / 4:17 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks boosted by resources, jobs data

(Updates numbers, adds details, quotes)

TORONTO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index gained ground on Friday morning, lifted by rosy economic data and support from resource shares as commodity prices climbed.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 72.36 points, or 0.56 percent, at 12,997.73 with seven of its 10 main groups in positive territory.

Gains in key commodity prices gave the index some support, as the energy and materials sectors moved up 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. The gold producers subsector gained 1.5 percent.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose C$2.07, or 2.2 percent, to C$95.12, while Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) added C$1.84, or 3 percent, to C$63.24.

On the economic front, Statistics Canada said 46,400 jobs were created in January, while the unemployment rate fell to a 33-year low of 5.8 percent, alleviating worries of a slowdown.

“It’s kind of amazing that in Canada we seem to keep going our own way,” said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities. “We’re marching to a different drummer obviously, but that could be short term.”

Better-than-expected housing starts for January also added to the economic picture and helped put some cheer into the index.

But investors still had an eye on news south of the border, amid more worries over the health of bond insurers. Fears of a slowdown also weighed after a U.S. Federal Reserve official said a recession might not be avoidable.

On the Toronto benchmark, financials were off 0.1 percent. Bond insurers were used by some companies to hedge exposure to the troubled U.S. subprime mortgage market, but investors have become worried that those insurers could now fail.

The banking sector was mixed, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) slipping 70 Canadian cents, or 1 percent, to C$67.70, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) up 9 Canadian cents, or 0.2 percent, at C$52.78.

ACE Aviation Holdings ACEa.TO was up 87 Canadian cents, or 3.9 percent, at C$23.13 after its chief executive said the majority owner of Air Canada ACa.TO has been approached about possible U.S. mergers. Also on Friday, ACE reported lower fourth-quarter operating profit.

Elsewhere on the earnings front, soft drink maker Cott Corp (BCB.TO) posted a fourth-quarter loss, hurt by one-time charges, weaker demand and rising costs. Shares of Cott were up 14 Canadian cents, or 2.5 percent, at C$5.84.

Business software firm Open Text Corp OTC.TO was down 50 Canadian cents, or 1.6 percent, at C$31.07, after reporting higher second-quarter revenue after market close on Thursday .

$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway

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