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TORONTO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index surged higher on Monday, led by gains in the energy and materials sectors.
The oil and gas sector gained 2.4 percent, as crude prices pushed above $99 a barrel, buoyed by rising heating fuel futures.
Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO was up C$3.08, or 4.5 percent, at C$71.70, while Suncor Energy SU.TO rose C$2.17, or 2.2 percent, to C$99.68.
The materials sector, home to resource shares, gained 0.7 percent. Inmet Mining IMN.TO rose C$2.57, or 3 percent, to C$89.07, while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO was up C$4.69, or 3 percent, at C$163.21.
“People are looking for areas where they can see longer term value and I think, looking through this year, people are beginning to focus in on (materials and energies),” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 96.87 points, or 0.71 percent, at 13,682.80 with six of its 10 main sectors in the negative.
The benchmark rose alongside stocks south of the border after Standard & Poor’s said it had removed U.S. bond insurer MBIA Inc MBI.N from credit watch. Concerns that bond insurers could be downgraded have contributed to market jitters over the credit crunch.
The ratings agency also affirmed Ambac Financial Group Inc’s ABX.N credit grade, while talk of a rescue plan for Ambac added to the optimism.
Toronto’s heavyweight financial sector remained under water, however, off 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO slipping 20 Canadian cents, or 0.4 percent, to C$50.30 and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO down 14 Canadian cents, or 0.2 percent, at C$67.04.
Also on the downside, the subindex of gold producers shaved 1.8 percent, as the price of bullion weakened. Barrick Gold ABX.TO lost C$1.49, or 2.9 percent, to C$49.14.
$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson