* TSX index up 0.66 percent at 11,598.00
* Two banks top expectations, shares up
* Golds shine as precious metal turns higher (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was firmer on Thursday afternoon as healthy bank earnings and a turnaround in the price of gold lifted two of the index’s biggest sectors.
The financials group was up about 1 percent, spurred by better than expected results from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO and National Bank of Canada NA.TO.
The results kicked off the financial sector’s earnings season, and raised the outlook for rivals’ profits next week. [ID:nN25244939]
All six big banks rose, with CIBC up 2.76 percent at C$69.69, while National gained 1.33 percent to C$59.39.
The index had opened lower as soft U.S. economic data cast doubt on the pace of the global economic recovery, while Greece’s sovereign debt woes continued to weigh on investor sentiment. [ID:nN2597849] [ID:nN24204733] [ID:nTOE61O07J]
But by the afternoon, bank results and stronger gold prices helped the index bounce nearly 1 percent higher.
At 2:20 p.m. (1920 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 76.17 points, or 0.66 percent, at 11,598.00, rebounding from an earlier decline of nearly 1 percent. Seven of the index’s 10 main groups were up.
“A very weak open on Greece concerns and a weak U.S. market, but Canada has shown some good resilience on very good earnings from both Commerce and National Bank,” said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal.
“The gold sector, which lagged yesterday, has played catch-up today.”
A number of gold producers were among the top heavyweight gainers, and helped to boost the broader materials group 2.9 percent.
Barrick Gold ABX.TO was up 2.66 percent at C$39.74, while Goldcorp G.TO gained 3.7 percent to C$39.79.
$1=$1.06 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson