* TSX rises 108.24 points, or 0.85 pct, to 12,901.99
* Financials, energy issues lead gains
* Maple Leaf sags after Teachers’ sells stake (Adds details, quote, official close)
By Cameron French
TORONTO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose strongly on Wednesday as robust energy prices and strong U.S. economic data overshadowed worries that Ireland’s debt crisis could spread to other European economies.
New U.S. claims for jobless benefits last week dropped to their lowest level in more than two years, while consumer spending rose in October. [ID:nN24211131]
This helped drive Canadian financial stocks up 1.1 percent, led by market heavyweight Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which gained 1.8 percent to C$54.96, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), which climbed 2.1 percent to C$67.12.
“Even as Irish bonds are plunging, the concerns about the whole Europe situation seem to have dissipated a little bit, and there haven’t been any remarkable development overnight in terms of Korea,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities, in Vancouver.
The United States said on Wednesday it believe North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island this week was an isolated act tied to leadership changes in Pyongyang. [ID:nL3I6MO04H]
Also giving the commodity-heavy Toronto market a boost was a 1.3 percent rise in energy issues, as U.S. crude futures rose about 3.6 percent.
Precision Drilling (PD.TO) climbed 3.5 percent to C$8.57, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) increased 1.9 percent to C$39.84.
All told, The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 108.24 points, or 0.85 percent, to 12,901.99, as nine of the ten TSX sectors gained ground.
Uranium miner and processor Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) jumped 4.4 percent to C$37.58 after it said it signed a long-term agreement to supply uranium concentrate to China’s state-owned nuclear power company. [ID:nSGE6AN0DZ]
Among declining issues, Maple Leafs Foods (MFI.TO) fell 10 percent to C$11.41, after the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said it would sell its 25 percent stake in the food processing company. [ID:nN24209129] (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson)