* TSX index up 130.35 points, or 1.4 percent, at 9,409.50
* Gold and energy shares lead rally
* Bullion rises above $900/oz, oil nears $50/barrel (Adds details, analyst’s comment)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished more than 1 percent higher on Thursday in a broad advance led by the energy and materials sectors, which were supported by rising commodity prices.
The price of gold rose above $900 on fund buying and a weak U.S. dollar, putting some shine on Canada’s gold-mining stocks, including Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which rose 2.68 percent to C$35.99. [ID:nLN83239]
Overall, the materials group, which is home to gold and other miners, rose 1.4 percent.
Energy shares gained 2.14 percent on strength in the price of crude oil, which neared $50 a barrel, while Suncor Energy’s (SU.TO) better than expected quarterly results also helped power the rally. [ID:nLN617354]
Shares of Suncor rose 3.46 percent to C$30.49, while shares of Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), another key energy player and the top mover higher, were up 3.91 percent at C$58.80.
“Basically gold led the way. Energy was No. 2,” said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 130.35 points, or 1.4 percent, at 9,409.50. Eight of the index’s 10 main groups were higher.
The TSX has rallied about 26 percent since early March on improved sentiment about the state of the global banking system and signs of economic recovery. On Thursday, data showed Canadian retail sales rose slightly in February. [ID:nN23310364]
The index has recorded a weekly gain in each of the past six weeks, but the extent of the rise has made some investors cautious.
“It’s getting a little, shall we say, probably a little bit stretched,” said Masionis. He said a pullback is probably due but that the TSX is not likely to return to its March lows.
That sentiment was echoed by Steve Ibel, an institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who expects a “fairly aggressive” selloff in the next few weeks. “As we go into May we’ll face some pretty harsh resistance,” he said.
Ibel said he will be eyeing the results of U.S. bank stress tests, which may set the direction for stock markets. The U.S. government is due to release details on Friday of how it is conducting stress tests, and some banks may also start receiving the results of the tests.[ID:nN23327632]
In corporate news, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TOPOT.N, the world’s biggest fertilizer company, reported a 46 percent drop in first-quarter profit and lowered its full-year outlook as it anticipates a slow recovery for the sector. Potash was the biggest drag on the index, with its shares dropping nearly 3 percent to C$97.49.
Contract electronics maker Celestica (CLS.TO) gained 13 percent to C$6.42 as its quarterly profit topped expectations [ID:nN22546115].
$1=$1.22 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway