* TSX gains 0.1 percent to 13,379.37
* Rise in energy shares spurred by oil price above $90 (Adds details)
TORONTO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was slightly higher on Wednesday morning, pushed up almost single-handedly by oil and gas shares as oil prices hit a two-year high.
Seven of the index’s 10 main groups were lower in early dealings, and the 0.97 percent advance in the hefty oil and gas group was the index’s key support.
Oil rose above $90 a barrel for only the third time in two years, supported by a report showing a drop in U.S. oil and gasoline inventories as well as by cold weather and a weaker dollar. It hit its highest level since October 2008. [O/R]
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained 1.1 percent to C$44.36, while EnCana (ECA.TO) was up 1.1 percent at C$29.53. Nexen NXY.TO rose 1.37 percent to C$22.14, and Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO was up 1.65 percent at C$25.91. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose 1.8 percent to C$38.91.
“The bulk of the strength is coming from the energy sector...for the very simple reason that crude oil futures are strong here this morning,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
“The chatter seems to be that crude oil prices are not going down any time soon. They will probably continue to rise ... Other than that, there isn’t a lot of excitement. A lot of people are standing on the sidelines watching.”
At 11:10 a.m. (1610 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was 14.22 points, or 0.1 percent, higher at 13,379.37.
There were small gains in financials, up 0.21 percent, which Ketchen attributed to a continued lift from expectations that the country’s biggest banks are poised to boost their dividends sometime next year.
Market reaction was muted towards U.S. economic news, which showed economic growth was a touch stronger than previously estimated in the third quarter, but consumer spending was softer. [ID:nN22291718]
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)