May 20, 2008 / 6:00 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Robust energy firms help Toronto stocks rally

(Updates to early afternoon)

*Toronto index bounces higher after morning losses

*Rises above 15,000 for first time

*Energy shares buoy index amid record high oil prices

TORONTO, May 20 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index climbed further into record territory on Tuesday, thanks to soaring oil prices which boosted energy shares.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) jumped C$4.88, or 7.2 percent, to C$72.41, while Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) rose C$4.33, or 7.6 percent, to C$61.01.

Overall, the sector, which accounts for almost 30 percent of the index, gained 3 percent, as the price of oil hit a new high near $130 a barrel amid bullish price forecasts and tight supplies of refined products.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 96.56 points, or 0.64 percent, at 15,080.76, after hitting an intraday high of 15,090.74. In volatile trading, the benchmark passed 15,000 for the first time shortly after the open, before dropping to as low as 14,914.85.

Shares of Petrobank Energy and Resources PBG.TO jumped C$2.90, or 5.2 percent, to C$58.36 after a report that India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.BO) was getting ready to make a bid for a Canadian oil producer. A Petrobank executive dismissed speculation his company was the target.

Canadian Superior Energy SNG.TO rose 2.7 percent, or 11 Canadian cents, to C$4.12 after it said it plans a liquefied natural gas facility off the coast of New Jersey to supply gas to the U.S. Northeast.

Gold producers also bolstered the benchmark index’s rise, with the sector adding 2.7 percent as gold prices strengthened. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) pushed up C$2.41, or 3.5 percent, to C$71.71, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) rose C$1.98, or 4.9 percent, to C$42.16.

BCE Inc (BCE.TO), which had been partly responsible for the index’s downward momentum in the morning, lost C$1.17, or 3 percent, to C$37.65, amid concerns surrounding its C$34.8 billion buyout.

Weekend reports said the banks behind the buyout had submitted new financing terms to the buyout group, underscoring uncertainty over whether the deal will be completed.

The telecommunications sector was off 1.2 percent. ($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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