March 23, 2009 / 8:26 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX soars on Petro-Canada deal, US bank plan

* TSX jumps 452.16 points to 8,958.51

* Petro-Canada takeover buoys energy shares

* U.S. bank plan cheered by investors (Adds details, comments and official numbers)

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index surged more than 5 percent on Monday to its highest close in six weeks as a massive takeover of Petro-Canada PCA.TO and a U.S. plan to rid banks of toxic assets helped boost sentiment.

Energy shares raced higher as the price of oil, a key Canadian commodity, hit a three-month high, while Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) agreed to buy rival Petro-Canada for about C$18.43 billion. [ID:nN22497404]

Shares of Petro-Canada PCA.TO, a key contributor to the index’s gain, soared 20.4 percent to C$35.70, while EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) jumped 8 percent to C$55.50.

Another key factor behind the index’s gain was a U.S. plan to buy up to $1 trillion in toxic assets, a move that will be critical to hopes for a U.S. economic recovery. [ID:nSP429491]

“This is the most credible plan I’ve seen from the U.S. Treasury to date and it looks like the private sector and the stock market is buying into it,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier. “For me, this is some validation that there is some meat on the bones here.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 452.16 points, or 5.32 percent, to close at a session high of 8,598.51.

All 10 of the TSX’s sectors ended the session comfortably higher. The financials index, home to banks and insurers, led with a 8.9 percent gain while the energy group followed with a gain of 7.4 percent.

$1=$1.22 Canadian

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