June 16, 2008 / 2:31 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks jump as fertilizer producers gain

(Adds details)

* Toronto index jumps 100 points

* Fertilizer producers lead the way

TORONTO, June 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index jumped more than 100 points on Monday morning as big fertilizer producers were encouraged by record corn prices, while energy issues climbed on the back of firm U.S. crude oil.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 124.43 points, or 0.8 percent, at 14,902.89. Earlier it touched a high of 14,921.25.

Seven of the TSX index’s 10 main groups were higher, led by a 1.9 percent boost from the materials group, which includes fertilizer companies, and a 0.8 percent rise in the heavyweight energy group.

Fertilizer producers Potash Corp POT.TO and Agrium AGU.TO were in the spotlight after the price of corn surged to a new high as widespread flooding in the U.S. Midwest heightened concern about tight supplies.

Demand for fertilizer ingredient potash has soared along with rising grain prices.

Potash Corp rose C$2.81 to C$234.93 and Agrium was up C$1.95 at C$108.41.

Energy companies, which account for about a third of the index’s overall weighting, gained as the price for crude oil surged to a new high near $140 a barrel, after falling earlier in the session on reports that Saudi Arabia planned to boost output to its highest in decades.

EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) rose C$1.59 to C$95.29, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained C$1.18 to C$105.27.

EnCana said it took two substantial resource positions in some North American natural gas shale plays. It also named directors and executives for its two spinoff companies.

“Oil and fertilizer continue to drive this market,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung and Co. Investment Counsel.

Offsetting the gain were a 0.7 percent drop in the lightly weighted healthcare group, and a 0.4 percent dip in the telecommunications sector.

Heavyweight telecommunications firm Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO) was down 28 Canadian cents at C$40.81.

Despite the strong gains on Monday, Sprung said investors are waiting anxiously for key data later in the week that could dictate the tone of the market. This includes the May consumer price index on Thursday and April retail sales on Friday.

“People seem to be quite complacent to displace some of the fears of inflation. We are still waiting for some economic numbers to come out later this week and when they come out we will see how resilient the market is,” Sprung said. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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