* TSX closes up 3.21 percent at 8,186.62
* Financial sector rallies on bank results
* Energy group boosted by higher crude price (Adds details, quote)
TORONTO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index climbed on Thursday for a third straight session in a rally sparked by better-than-expected bank earnings and stronger oil prices.
The financial sector rose 6.2 percent and the energy group was up 4.4 percent.
Three of Canada’s largest banks — Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC (CM.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) — reported quarterly profits on Thursday that were hit hard by market-related charges, but underlying results excluding one-time items beat street expectations. [ID:nN26542233]
“The Canadian banks have shown performance that was actually better than expected,” said Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS.
“Clearly, banks have been very, very strong today following some of the positive earnings reports.”
CIBC rose 6.1 percent to C$45.91, and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) climbed 9.7 percent to C$37.69.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 254.52 points, or 3.21 percent, to 8,186.82, with eight of its 10 main groups higher. Consumer staples stocks fell 0.4 percent and information technology shares dropped 0.3 percent.
The price of oil settled $2.72 higher at $45.22 a barrel [ID:nSIN102835], helping to support EnCana (ECA.TO), up 1.6 percent at C$48.88, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), up 5.2 percent at C$41.66.
Torstar Corp (TSb.TO) shares sank 5.3 percent to C$6.05 after the book and newspaper publisher posted a quarterly loss.[ID:nBNG429814]
Also on the downside were Research In Motion RIM.TO, down 4 percent at C$49.82, and Agrium Inc AGU.TO, which dropped 4.8 percent to C$43.80.
$1=$1.25 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Peter Galloway