* TSX ends up 224.07 points, or 1.6 pct, at 14,013.70
* All 10 of the index’s main groups higher (Updates to close, adds details, quotes)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 21 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed sharply higher on Monday, rising to its strongest level in more than a week as energy, gold and financial issues led a broad-based rally.
Oil and gas stocks, which make up more than a quarter of the index, were up 1.61 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) shot up 3.6 percent to C$44.63, while Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS.TO climbed 2.6 percent to C$32.04. Talisman Energy TLM.TO was also up 2.6 percent at C$24.25.
Oil prices rose 1 percent on as spreading unrest in the Middle East intensified concerns about potential threats to the region’s oil supply, while U.N.-mandated air strikes kept flow reduced from OPEC-member Libya. [O/R] [ID:nLDE72K0F1]
“I think really what we’re seeing is strength because of oil prices,” said John Stephenson, senior vice-president at First Asset Investment Management.
“I think the betting is right now that eventually Muammar (Gaddafi) will be gone, and what we’re seeing in Syria, what we’re seeing in Yemen, what we’re seeing in Bahrain will eventually spill into Saudi Arabia.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 224.07 points, or 1.62 percent, at 14,013.70. It put in the best performance since March 9, with all 10 of its main groups higher, and eight up more than 1 percent.
Weighty gold issues rallied 1.7 percent as the price of safe-haven bullion rose for a fourth day, buoyed by a weaker U.S. dollar, rising oil prices and investor jitters surrounding Libya and Japan’s struggle to avert nuclear disaster. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) added 0.9 percent to C$49.31 and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) jumped almost 3 percent to C$12.25.
Financial stocks, which make up almost a third of the TSX, climbed 1.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) bounced up 1.5 rise to C$60.40 and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) advanced 1.3 percent to C$83.96. Insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) climbed 2.6 percent to C$17.25.
“What the market is waking up to is that we’re now entering a good phase of dividend increases for the financials ... Ultimately the financials are in relatively good shape and when you kind of look forward in time, Canadian banks no matter how you slice it ... they’re well positioned for it,” added Stephenson.
While the outlook for Japan’s recovery remained a worry for global markets, glimmers of hope about the nuclear crisis and investor Warren Buffett’s comments about Japanese stocks being a buying opportunity helped investor sentiment overall.
Monday’s buoyant mood was also helped by AT&T’s (T.N) proposed $39 billion takeover of wireless rival T-Mobile USA, which is owned by Deutsche Telecom (DTEGn.DE). [ID:nN20237333]
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Rob Wilson)