March 19, 2009 / 2:46 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 5-week high as oil and gold shares rally

* TSX up 125.43 points at 8,754.53

* Energy and gold shares lead surge

* Fed initiatives improve sentiment (Adds details)

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, March 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s key stock index was higher at midmorning on Thursday as rallying oil prices gave a jolt to energy shares amid hopes that credit easing measures 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, sending the resource-heavy Toronto index to its highest level since Feb. 11, with the bulk of the gains coming from the energy and materials sectors.

Shares of Suncor Energy (SU.TO), the biggest contributor to the index’s rise, were up 6.7 percent at C$33.29, while Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) was up 2.8 percent at C$41.03.

The higher start for Toronto’s key index followed a string of seven straight gaining sessions. It extended a rally triggered on Wednesday 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. “They are opening up all the taps and that has helped the commodities.”

At 10:15 a.m. (1415 GMT) the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 125.43 points, or 1.45 percent, at 8,754.53. Earlier, it had charged ahead 216.74 points, or 2.51 percent, to 8,845.84.

Seven of the TSX’s 10 sectors were higher, led by a 4.36 percent rise in the energy group and a 3.95 percent gain among materials stocks, which includes gold and base metal miners.

The heavily-weighted financials index, home to Canadian banks and insurers, capped the broader index’s gain as some of its key members relinquished gains after the group gained 29 percent in just over a week.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) shares were down 0.4 percent at C$36.25, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) fell 0.5 percent to C$32.14.

$1=$1.23 Canadian Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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