* TSX climbs 2.24 percent to 9,981.45
* Index catches up after market closed on Monday
* Energy sector up 3.4 pct; oil gives back early gains
* Viterra agrees to buy ABB Grain Ltd in a $1.2 bln deal (Adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, May 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index opened sharply higher on Tuesday as higher oil prices boosted oil and gas issues and as Toronto played catch-up with U.S. stock markets after being closed on Monday for the Victoria Day holiday.
All of the index’s 10 main groups were in the black, with the energy sector, up 3.4 percent, leading the charge higher. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), up 5.2 percent at C$60.95, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO), which climbed 3.6 percent to C$34.87.
“It’s pretty much follow up on yesterday’s very strong day in New York,” said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse.
“You had strength across the board in New York and that reflected really strong sentiment.”
However, U.S. stocks were little changed to slightly lower on Tuesday after government data showed new U.S. housing starts and permits unexpectedly slid to record lows in April. [ID:nN19408037]
The economic data overcame earlier optimism fueled by upbeat quarter results from Home Depot Inc (HD.N), the world’s largest home improvement chain, which added to hope the economic downturn was easing. [ID:nN19544666]
But despite the day to day movements, Gorman said generally the market appears to be looking toward a recovery.
“While the recession, by most measures will be deeper and longer than most, people are now starting to look across the valley,” he said. “It may be a while yet but you certainly see signs of it.”
At 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 218.60 points, or 2.24 percent, at 9,981.45.
Oil gave back earlier gains on Tuesday and was flat at around $58.90 a barrel. Earlier, it hit a new six-month high above $60 a barrel as unrest in key producer Nigeria and a U.S. refinery outage sparked concerns over oil fundamentals after weeks of equity-led rallies. [nSIN131895]
Gold was also firmer [nLJ936150], helping to boost the materials sector, which was up 1.5 percent.
Canada’s top grain handler Viterra Inc VT.TO rose 2.3 percent to C$9.04. Viterra has agreed to buy Australia’s ABB Grain Ltd ABB.AX in a $1.2 billion share and cash deal, giving Viterra access to growth markets in Asia. [nSYD331746] ($1=$1.16 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)