* TSX up 92.29 pts, or 0.8 pct, at 11,732.5
* First two consecutive up days since Nov. 7-8
* Resources, financials lead the gains
* U.S. consumer confidence data lifts mood (Adds details, analyst’s comments)
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks closed higher on Tuesday - the first time in three weeks they have risen two days in a row - as heavyweight oil and gas producers rose in tandem with energy prices, which were boosted by encouraging U.S. economic data.
As on Monday, oil and gas issues were the index’s biggest movers, rising nearly 2 percent as U.S. crude prices edged toward $100 a barrel. [O/R] Energy stocks are up more than 4 percent this week following last week’s tumult.
“We’ve had a pretty strong rally over the last couple months (with oil prices) going from $75 to $100, and we’re holding fairly well,” said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities.
“We had the sharp bounce on Monday and it’s nice to see that we’re getting some follow-through here today,” he said.
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) led the sector’s gains for the second straight session, rising 3.3 percent to C$36.35 as North American spot natural gas prices climbed as futures gained strength on cooler U.S. weather forecasts. [ID:nN1E7AS1ET].
Oil’s rise was supported by a surprisingly strong Conference Board index of U.S. consumer confidence, which jumped to 56.0 in November from an upwardly revised 40.9 the month before. [ID:nN1E7AR196]
“It’s been a very very big jump and the market wasn’t expecting it,” said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 92.29 points, or 0.8 percent, at 11,732.5. It was the first time the TSX rose for two straight days since Nov. 7-8.
A more solid tone to a sale of Italian debt helped markets open higher, but the near 8 percent yield on Italy’s three-year bonds tempered optimism over the country’s ability to finance its debt. [ID:nL5E7MT29A]
Investors were hopeful a meeting of European finance ministers on Tuesday would include some tangible steps to address the region’s spiraling debt problems, which have begun to spread to the euro zone’s top economies. [ID:nL5E7MS4MQ]
“I think one of the concrete elements that will probably happen over the next few days is that finally the check will be sent to Greece so that they will get the 8 billion euros they’ve been waiting for,” said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities.
The index’s financial sector, which has little direct exposure to European debt assets, was one of its strongest performers, climbing nearly 1 percent.
Heading into earnings reports week for Canada’s big banks, it was a good portent, and they all moved higher. [ID:nN1E7AO1HQ]
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) led the way, gaining 1.4 percent to C$44.95. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was up 1.2 percent at C$69.70, and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) climbed 1.3 percent to C$57.49.
Heavily weighted materials issues rose 0.6 percent, lifted by gold prices [GOL/] that steadied above $1,700 an ounce.
Among the sector’s leaders were Goldcorp (G.TO), up 1 percent at C$51.24, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), up 0.6 percent at C$51.47.
In individual company news, Research In Motion RIM.TO jumped more than 5 percent to C$17.95 after it said it will introduce a software tool giving corporate customers the option of linking employees’ personal iPhones and Android smartphones to RIM’s BlackBerry network without compromising security. [ID:nT5E7MN00U]
($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)