* All TSX sectors except the materials group gain
* Gold miners biggest drag on TSX, bullion hits 1-week low
* Confidence rises as earnings reports beat expectations (Updates with closing numbers, analyst’s comments)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, April 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose 1.1 percent on Thursday in a broad rally led by the financial and energy groups as quarterly financial results helped reassure investors.
The index’s heavily weighted financial group was up 2.4 percent, supported by a better than expected earnings report from JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N). The JPMorgan results encouraged the notion that the fragile U.S. sector banking was righting itself. [ID:nN16542451]
The oil and gas group was also a major advancer, lifted by oil prices that rose to around $50 a barrel. [ID:nSP405814]
Research In Motion RIM.TO, the gainer with the biggest heft, was up 6.2 percent, rising on optimism in the technology sector after cellphone maker Nokia said a drop in demand for its products was stabilizing.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 97.26 points, or 1.05 percent, to 9,343.37.
The index has recently been making a habit of pushing higher in the late afternoon, and Thursday was no exception, reflecting growing optimism about signs that the economy and financial markets are stabilizing.
“I think a lot of people had expected first quarter earnings would be quite poor and the surprises would be on the downside,” said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. “Instead what we’re seeing is most companies meeting expectations or even coming in a bit better, and many are saying things are stabilizing.”
The TSX entered the session nearly 24 percent above the five-year low it hit in early March, which some experts say could keep the index ripe for a pullback.
Nine of the TSX’s 10 main sectors were higher, with the exception of the materials sector, which dropped 3.4 percent, as gold miners’ slumped along with the price of gold.
Bullion hit a one-week low as sluggish investment and physical demand dented the metal’s appeal as an alternative investment. [ID:nTLG392725].
Seven gold companies made up the top issues dragging on the overall market, including Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), down 5.7 percent at C$333.93. Goldcorp (G.TO) fell 7.1 percent to C$34.10, while Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) declined 7.3 percent to C$55.01.
$1=$1.21 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway