* Commodities prop up TSX as financial issues weigh
* Materials surge as gold nears $900/oz
* Barrick takes the top spot on the exchange
* HudBay stock jumps on OSC ruling (Adds details, comments, updates to closing figures)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index marched 1.7 percent higher on Friday, carried by strength in gold and oil prices, but the gains were limited by weakness in the rest of the market.
Gold rose to nearly $900 an ounce for the first time since Oct. 10, which helped the TSX’s resource-laden materials group gain 6.04 percent. The surge boosted Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) 9.2 percent to C$48.79, making it the the country’s largest publicly traded company.
Nearly all fellow gold companies rode the bullion price higher, with some hitting their highest levels in months. [ID:nN23326148]
“It’s the story of the day. Gold stocks are definitely leading the charge,” said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“We’re also seeing some good strength in some energy names, and some of the other material stocks. There’s a great deal of weakness in the financials ... that’s capping a little bit of the upside here.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 1.67 percent, or 141.41 points, to finish the week at at 8,627.97, down 3.3 percent from the week before. Four of the index’s 10 main groups were higher.
Energy issues also helped lift the overall market, staging a comeback as the price of oil rose more than 6 percent.
The commodity-led rally was held back by continuing weakness in financials, which fell 0.8 percent. Hopes of further aid from Washington helped lift U.S. bank stocks, but the sentiment did not cross the border.
The top moving decliner was Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which closed down 6.6 percent at C$28.08, after hitting a 52-week low of C$28.05. The second biggest mover on the downside was Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), off 1.7 percent at C$39.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 1.94 percent higher at 518.65.
HudBay Minerals (HBM.TO) was one of the most heavily traded stocks on the index, rising 24.15 percent to C$4.37, after the Ontario Securities Commission ordered the miner to hold a shareholder meeting before proceeding with its planned C$550 million takeover of Lundin Mining (LUN.TO). [ID:nN23371375]
The OSC decision could raise prospects that shareholders will reject a planned HudBay stock issue and the takeover deal will not go through.
“If there’s a vote and the deal is voted down then they’re not going to have that massive share dilution,” said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“If you’re a current shareholder that’s positive.”
Lundin was the most heavily traded issue and tumbled 22.7 percent to 92 Canadian cents.
Early on, sentiment was hurt by earnings from General Electric (GE.N), which met expectations but were down steeply from the prior year, and the company warned of an extremely difficult 2009. [ID:nN23533557]
The GE news helped pull the Dow Jones industrial average down 45.24 points, or 0.56 percent to end at 8,077.56. The Nasdaq composite index rose 11.80 points, or 0.81 percent, to close at 1,477.29.
$1=$1.23 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson