April 9, 2008 / 3:11 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks edge higher on boost from resources

(Updates to midmorning)

TORONTO, April 9 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index pushed slightly higher on Wednesday morning as resource shares strengthened on a bounce in commodity prices.

Oil company Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was among the biggest gainers, up C$1.44, or 1.9 percent, at C$76.47, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) added 83 Canadian cents, or 0.8 percent, to C$106.20. The energy group was up 1.8 percent, lifted by a bounce in crude prices.

Shares of gold-mining and other resource companies also supported the index, with the materials sector gaining 1.1 percent. Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO was up C$1.13, or 0.6 percent, at C$179.40, and Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) rose C$1.24, or 1.8 percent, to C$70.60. The gold producers subindex moved up 2.2 percent, lifted by an uptick in bullion prices.

But declines in banking shares hampered the index as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) fell 80 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$67.20, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) was off 82 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, at C$48.95. The overall sector was down 1.2 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 31.62 points, or 0.23 percent, at 13,759.15 with three of its 10 main sectors higher.

The industrials and utilities sectors both gave up 0.8 percent.

The benchmark has closed higher in six out of the past eight sessions, buoyed by an improvement in sentiment, but analysts have remained cautious.

“I still think there’s a fair bit of skepticism that this move up may be more of a fake rally, so I think there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of confidence building,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.

“I view it more as a pause to refresh rather than a U-turn because I think most of the downside has been taken out of the market” by moves from central banks around the world to pump liquidity into the credit markets, Nakamoto said.

Concern over the prospects for quarterly earnings, stoked by disappointing profit from Alcoa (AA.N) earlier in the week, has also taken some of the luster out of the index.

Burmis Energy BME.TO jumped 23 Canadian cents, or 7.1 percent, to C$3.45 after Baytex Energy Trust BTE_u.TO said it had agreed to buy the company in an all-paper offer worth about C$152 million ($149 million). Baytex was down 53 Canadian cents, or 2.2 percent, at C$23.41.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway

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