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By Leah Schnurr
TORONTO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index ended higher on Friday in a late-day push propelled by resource issues, as key commodity prices climbed.
The heavyweight energy sector followed crude oil higher, as the commodity jumped 4 percent on supply disruptions and an oncoming cold spell in the U.S. Northeast.
The materials sector added 1.6 percent, while its subindex of gold producers was up 2.3 percent amid climbing bullion prices.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 63.97 points, or 0.49 percent, at 12,989.34. But the benchmark lost 2.5 percent on the week, plagued by worries of a U.S. recession.
The retreat included a more than 300-point drop on Tuesday after U.S. data showed the non-manufacturing services index fell in January, fueling fears the slump in the U.S. housing market has spread to the wider economy.
“Yesterday we had a rally off a pretty nasty day so I think everyone’s just licking their wounds, taking a little profits, and (waiting) to see what happens next week,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer of RKH Investments.
On the downside, Inmet Mining IMN.TO shares sagged after the company, along with Petaquilla Copper PTC.TO and Teck Cominco Ltd TCKb.TO, said development cost estimates at their Petaquilla copper project have more than doubled in the past year. That put the future of the project in Panama into question.
Inmet finished down C$3.84, or 5.4 percent, at C$67.31, while Petaquilla was off 26 Canadian cents, or 13.4 percent, at C$1.68. Teck, which has the option of taking a 26 percent stake in the project if it commits to fund 52 percent of the development costs, edged up 6 Canadian cents, or 0.2 percent, to C$34.73.
Despite data that showed a soaring Canadian employment number for January, the market remained nervous over the prospect of a recession in the United States, Canada’s biggest trading partner.
The economy added 46,400 jobs in January, while the employment rate fell to 5.8 percent, melting worries of a slowdown last month.
“That was a good number, it sure shows that Canada’s not necessarily following the United States into the tank in lock-step at this point in time,” said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd.
But Kerkovius added: “The severity of the U.S. recession is going to affect us. It doesn’t look like it’s affecting us yet, but I think a safe bet would be to say that it will as time moves on.”
The financials, the biggest sector on the index, gave up 0.7 percent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was down 93 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, at C$67.47, while Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) lost 73 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, to C$50.56.
The consumer discretionary sector was down 1.5 percent.
Shares of ACE Aviation Holdings ACEa.TO, the majority owner of Air Canada ACa.TO jumped C$1.29, or 5.8 percent, to C$23.55 after its chief executive said he has been approached about possible U.S. mergers. Air Canada vaulted C$1.07, or 11.1 percent, to C$10.73.
Market volume was 362 million shares worth C$6.1 billion. Advancers outpaced decliners 844 to 688. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 3.64 points, or 0.48 percent, at 759.30.
On Wall Street, the Dow finished lower as investors sold-off shares in sectors that have been at the heart of the credit market crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 64.87 points, or 0.53 percent, at 12,182.13, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC rose 11.82 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,304.85.
$1=$1.00 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson