* TSX closes up 0.52 percent at 11,555.60
* US$ weakness and investor optimism help gold, oil
* Index is at highest point since mid-October (Adds details, analyst comment)
By John McCrank
TORONTO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose for a fifth-straight session on Wednesday, lifted by a rally in the energy and materials sectors as investors bet the economy may be set to turn around.
The upbeat mood helped lift the index to its highest level since mid-October.
U.S. gold futures closed near a 14-month high above $1,020 per ounce as the U.S. dollar fell to a 2009 low against the euro and investors sought the metal as a hedge against inflation. [ID:nN16148631]
Other metals, such as copper, aluminum and zinc, were lifted along with gold. Base metals miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO rose 2.6 percent to C$30.00.
“Investors are playing the global recovery theme and also the lower U.S. dollar theme, and the way to play that is through commodities and through Canadian dollars,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 59.77 points, or 0.52 percent, at 11,555.60. Seven of the TSX’s 10 main groups advanced.
Nakamoto said investors were emboldened by U.S. Federal reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments on Tuesday that the recession was essentially over. Strong U.S. data, namely Tuesday’s manufacturing and retail sales reports, also helped, he said.
“In a very short period of time it seems like we’ve gone from a stage of fear to almost greed now. Whereas, last year, people would take a 10 percent return, now I think people are looking for the big-game hunting,” he said.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was the biggest index gainer of the day, up 2 percent at C$39.44. Other companies from the oil patch also made solid gains, with Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) up 1.1 percent at C$73.85, and Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO rising 2.8 percent to C$29.06.
Crude futures rose above $72, finishing up more than 2 percent, after data showed U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected last week, indicating higher demand. [ID:nN16151945].
“This is pretty wide strength in energy and materials, which is 45 percent of the index,” said Gavin Graham, Director of Investments at BMO Asset Management.
Graham added that insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), up 1.5 percent at C$21.65, was also a big mover, pointing to overall strength in equities and to investor confidence.
$1=$1.07 Canadian Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson