April 18, 2008 / 2:45 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks get lift from robust banks

(Updates to midmorning)

TORONTO, April 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index pushed higher on Friday morning as financials were buoyed by optimism that the worst of the credit crunch may be over.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was among the biggest gainers on the benchmark, rising C$1.80, or 2.6 percent, to C$70.36 as quarterly results from major U.S. banks lifted hopes that banks were starting to clean up their balance sheets.

The banking sector overall rose 2.7 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) pushed up C$1.54, or 2.4 percent, to C$65.36.

“These guys (U.S. banks) have fessed up to some pretty horrendous numbers,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

“I think we’re hoping ... that they have taken a pretty good shot at cleaning up their balance sheets and maybe the damage going forward won’t be quite so shocking.”

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 61.88 points, or 0.44 percent, at 14,177.38.

Energy and materials sectors were the only two groups on the downside, losing 0.2 percent and 2 percent respectively, as falling commodity prices took their toll.

Gold producers were down 4.1 percent as strength in the U.S. dollar caused the price of bullion to skid more than 3 percent, hitting a one-week low of $906.90 an ounce.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) shed C$5.03, or 6.6 percent, to C$71.72, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) gave up C$2.04, or 4.5 percent, at C$43.48.

In the oil and gas sector, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was down C$1.71, or 2 percent, at C$83.30, while Petro-Canada PCA.TO was off 35 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, to C$51.23.

On the upside, Research In Motion RIM.TO was up C$2.50, or 2.1 percent, at C$122.35, helping the tech sector rise 1.5 percent. Late on Thursday, bellwether Google (GOOG.O) posted better-than-expected profit and revenue, and said it saw no impact on its business from a weakening economy.

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway

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