* TSX rallies 69.50 points to 8,629.10
* Index erases earlier skid of 3 percent
* Gold-miners drive latest equity gain
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed higher on Wednesday for a seventh straight session after a surprise move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to revive the battered U.S. economy bolstered investor confidence.
The U.S. central bank said it would spend up to $300 billion to buy long-term U.S. Treasuries for the first time in four decades. Investors saw the program as a fresh way of promoting financial stability, raising hope for an earlier recovery by Canada’s largest trading partner. [ID:nN18343369]
The news sparked an instant rally in North American equities and brought Toronto’s key index to its highest close since Feb. 13. Earlier in the session, it had fallen by as much as 3 percent.
The massive spending program also stirred concern over inflation, boosting bullion prices along with a handful of gold-mining shares.
“It’s basically all the Fed,” said Levente Mady, broker at MF Global Canada in Vancouver. “You’ve got low (U.S.) rates to stay for awhile which the equity markets like and that helped make everything go up.”
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 69.50 points, or 0.81 percent, to close at 8,629.10. Seven of the 10 TSX sectors ended higher, led by a 5.42 percent gain in materials.
Energy shares fell 2 percent and capped the index’s rise as after data that showed higher U.S. crude inventories, while the World Bank cut its 2009 forecast for China’s economic growth.