* TSX ends up 35.67 points at 13,674.25
* Materials, forestry issues up, energy flat
* Oil lower; gold and copper recoup losses after Japan (Updates to close, adds details, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index pushed slightly higher on Friday as investors bought beaten-down stocks and the market took comfort in lower oil prices and predicted increased demand for basic materials as a result of the huge earthquake in Japan.
After four straight days of losses, the index bounced back as oil prices fell, while gold and base-metal prices recouped losses and bargain-hunters jumped into hard-hit commodity producers.
The energy sector was off but gold and base metal miners dramatically reversed earlier declines, sending the index’s heavyweight materials group up 1 percent.
Oil retreated after the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan shut refineries and other industrial facilities in the world’s third-largest oil consumer, which eventually brought some relief to investors. [O/R]
“Investors put into perspective what happened in Japan wasn’t going to have too much of an impact on the global economy but it was going to probably have a beneficial impact near term on oil demand,” said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.
“The market has been inversely correlated lately to oil prices. When oil prices go up, markets have been trending down because of the fears that higher oil prices will derail world economic growth.”
Advancing strongly, Teck Resources TCKb.TO rallied 2.5 percent to C$50.93, and Agnico Eagle AEM.TO climbed 1.3 percent to C$64.95 as gold and copper prices turned positive on safe-haven flows and expectations of higher demand due to construction needs in Japan. [GOL/] [MET/L]
“There’s obviously going to be some sort of rebuilding effort. At the margin, it’s going to be more demand for basic materials,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
“Bargain-hunters are coming in ... part of it has to do with that we’ve been down pretty sharply yesterday and the past few days. (They‘re) looking for some sort of rebound,” Nakamoto said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 35.67 points, or 0.26 percent, at 13,674.25 with five of the index’s 10 main sectors firmer.
Forest-products companies were among the most significant gainers of the day. International Forest Products IFPa.TO surged 15 percent to C$6.00, West Fraser (WFT.TO) jumped 6.7 percent to C$50.83 and Canfor Corp (CFP.TO) gained 7.2 percent to C$13.07.
“The Japanese use a lot of lumber as opposed to cement in their buildings because they can withstand earthquakes better than pure concrete structures,” added Orengo.
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson)