February 20, 2008 / 8:35 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 3-Commodities help fuel surge in Toronto stocks

(Updates numbers, adds detail)

TORONTO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index overcame early losses with a strong rally on Wednesday afternoon, buoyed by new highs from oil and gold prices.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 97.02 points, or 0.72 percent, at 13,544.76 with seven of its 10 main sectors in positive territory.

The energy and materials sectors led the gains, up 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was up C$1.12, or 1.7 percent, at C$69.17 and Suncor Energy (SU.TO) added 80 Canadian cents, or 0.8 percent, to C$100.39.

The subindex of gold producers edged up 0.3 percent while Centerra Gold (CG.TO) gained 27 Canadian cents, or 2 percent, to C$14.02. Also in the resource sector, Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) rose C$2.63, or 3.8 percent, to C$71.63.

Oil rose back above $100 a barrel, beating Tuesday’s record, while spot gold soared to a record high of $937.60 an ounce, yanked higher by oil’s momentum.

The Toronto benchmark had begun the day falling more than 100 points, weighed down by weaker commodity prices and higher than expected consumer price index data in the United States.

The utility group rose 0.7 percent, helped by gains by TransAlta Corp (TA.TO), which said it has sold its Mexican power plants for $303.5 million. TransAlta was up 80 Canadian cents, or 2.3 percent, at C$35.45.

The financial sector moved up 0.7 percent, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) gained C$1.05, or 1.6 percent, to C$67.03. CI Financial Income Fund CIX_u.TO was up 15 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, at C$22.80 after it said growth in fee-earning assets helped push its profit up 25 percent.

Shares of coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons THI.TO gained 30 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$35.71 after the company reported a higher profit as it added new locations and raised prices.

On the downside, Rona Inc RON.TO shed C$1.08, or 6.6 percent, to C$15.27 after the home improvement retailer said profit fell 20 percent amid a “difficult business climate.”

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Rob Wilson

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