March 25, 2008 / 8:36 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks get big boost from resources

(Updates with official closing numbers, adds details)

TORONTO, March 25 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index pushed higher for a third session in a row on Tuesday, powered by strong gains in resources amid a rebound in commodity prices.

A rally in the price of gold helped make miners among the biggest lifts on the index, with Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) gaining C$3.95, or 5.9 percent, to C$71.39 and Goldcorp (G.TO) up C$2.68, or 7.1 percent, at C$40.70. The subindex of gold producers jumped 4.8 percent.

Also in the resource space, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO added C$5.33, or 3.5 percent, to C$159.34, while the materials group as a whole rose 4.4 percent.

The large energy group also buoyed the benchmark, while oil edged up after a choppy session. The sector was up 2.8 percent, with Suncor Energy (SU.TO) gaining C$3.87, or 4.1 percent, to C$98.89 and EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) rising C$1.91, or 2.6 percent, to C$75.25.

The benchmark, which is heavily weighted to the resource side, was stung last week by a steep sell-off in commodities in the wake of further fallout from the credit squeeze.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 302.50 points, or 2.32 percent, at 13,322.22 with all but one of its 10 main sectors in positive territory. The day’s gains added on to Monday’s more than 240-point rally and made for a rise of almost 5 percent over three sessions.

The tech sector lent its support to the index, rising 2.4 percent, while Research In Motion RIM.TO added C$4.21, or 3.7 percent, to C$118.31.

Nortel Networks NT.TO was up 33 Canadian cents, or 5 percent, at C$7.00 after it said it had won a five-year contract with U.S. Cellular to boost the wireless carrier’s network using Nortel’s CDMA technology.

On the economic front, strong Canadian retail numbers added confidence to the benchmark after data showed retail sales were up 1.5 percent in January, making for a third month in a row of big gains.

The consumer staples sector rose 2.7 percent.

The health care sector was the lone group on the downside, off 2 percent. Biovail Corp BVF.TO was down 62 Canadian cents, or 5.3 percent, at C$11.04 the day after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the pharmaceutical company will pay $10 million to settle a probe into fraudulent accounting. Four current and former officers still face charges from the regulator.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Renato Andrade

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