* TSX rises 0.65 pct to 12,239.64
* Gains for fifth straight session, up 1.4 pct on week
* Energy, mining stocks lead broad market rise (Adds details)
By Cameron French
TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index gained ground for a fifth consecutive day on Friday, rising within a whisper of a 19-month high as strong economic data and a weaker U.S. dollar boosted demand for resource stocks.
Data showing a surprising 27 percent jump in new U.S. home sales in March gave investors an early go-ahead to buy, analysts said, while the U.S. dollar was stung by a strengthening euro as worries about a European debt crisis abated.
Oil gained 1.7 percent during the session, pushing up the TSX energy subgroup by 1.54 percent. Sector heavyweight Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rose 2 percent to C$34.53, while EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) climbed 2.1 percent to C$32.67.
Metals prices also climbed, particularly gold, giving the materials sector a 1.04 percent gain. All 10 TSX subgroups finished the session stronger.
“Overall, I think the market was looking for an excuse to end on a positive note this week,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment Counsel in Toronto.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session up 78.77 points, or 0.65 percent, at 12,239.64. It topped out at 12,248.41 points late in the session, about one point shy of a 19-month high.
The index has risen every day this week, led by rebounding commodity prices as well as strong U.S. earnings, and posting a 1.4 percent gain over the period.
Analysts have said the market’s near-term direction will depend heavily on the strength of first-quarter corporate earnings, which will start to flood the Canadian market next week.
Sprung said he expects the market to continue to be very reactive to economic and financial news, particularly regarding the European debt situation.
“But during the earnings season I would suspect that the numbers are going to look positive year over year, and hence that could help carry the market a little bit from here,” he said.
Other strong sectors were utilities and healthcare, which rose 0.94 and 0.90 percent, respectively. Financials lagged the market with a 0.05 percent gain as investors took a cautious approach given uncertainty regarding European debt.
Among declining issues, Sears Canada SCC.TO dropped 1.8 percent to C$29.00 after U.S. retailer Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O) said it would take an additional 17.3 percent stake in the company. [ID:nN2395953]
Canadian data showing a retreat in core inflation in March and a slight rise in retail sales in February did not have a big impact on trading, analysts said.
$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway