* TSX up 183.25 points at 8,812.35
* Energy and gold shares lead surge
* Fed initiatives improve sentiment
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, March 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was sharply higher on Thursday morning as a rise in oil prices gave a jolt to energy shares amid hopes that credit easing measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve could boost the global economy.
The price of oil jumped more than 6 percent and gold hit a two-week high, and that sent the resource-heavy Toronto index to its highest level since Feb. 11.
Shares of Suncor Energy SU.TO, which headlined the index’s rise, were up 7.8 percent at C$33.61, while Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO was up 3.9 percent at C$41.47.
The opening rally on Toronto’s key index came on the heels of a string of seven straight gaining sessions. It continued a late rally on Wednesday that was triggered by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s surprise announcement that it would buy long-term Treasury bonds for the first time in four decades in a bid to revive the recession-hit economy.
“Obviously the No. 1 thing is the big announcement from the U.S.,” said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities. “Obviously they are opening up all the taps and that has helped the commodities go up.”
At 9:50 a.m. (1350 GMT) the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 183.25 points, or 2.12 percent, at 8,812.35. Seven of the TSX’s 10 sectors were higher, led by a 4.5 percent rise in the energy group.
$1=$1.23 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway