* TSX rises 98.23 points to 11,253.23
* Touches highest level since Oct. 3
* EnCana powers gain with 7.8 pct rise
* TSX ends week with 2.1 percent gain (Adds details and comments)
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed stronger on Friday after touching its highest level in nearly a year, driven up by a rally in EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) on news of its plan to split the company.
EnCana shares were given a boost as the company filled in details of its revived plan to split itself into separate oil sands and natural gas businesses. [nN11446303]
The news helped hand the energy group a 2.59 percent gain, best among all the TSX’s sectors, as it managed to shrug off a slide of nearly 4 percent in U.S. crude prices. [O/R]
Shares of EnCana ended up 7.8 percent at C$63.52, followed by Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), which exited the session with a gain of 3.5 percent to C$70.21.
While EnCana played a big role in the move, “it seems like risk appetite continues to increase rather than decrease,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
“It looks like investors are going to continue with that trend to either buy on dips or continue to move the market up. But it doesn’t look like they are in any mood to sell,” he added.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 98.23 points, or 0.88 percent, to 11,253.23, even though six of its 10 main groups ended lower. Earlier in the session the index rose as high as 11,283.31, its highest level since Oct. 3.
For the week, the TSX ended up 2.1 percent.
The broader index backed off the session high when the price of oil slipped below $70 a barrel from above $72, putting some pressure on the energy group, which pared gains.
“There was a huge turnaround in the price of crude oil,” said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. “So the energy group saw a little bit of weakness on the back of that, but it’s still up on the day.”
The TSX’s materials sector also ended 0.8 percent higher, aided by gold prices that extended their move above $1,010 an ounce. [GOL/]
Kinross Gold (K.TO) shares rose 2.7 percent to C$24.33, followed by Goldcorp (G.TO), which rose 1 percent to C$44.48.
The stock index’s early rise mirrored strength in world markets, which climbed on a weaker U.S. dollar and robust Chinese economic data. [MKTS/GLOB]
“People were negative going into September, thinking the worst, and it’s not worked out that way,” said Paul Harris, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management.
($1=$1.08 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Ka Yan Ng; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)