April 29, 2009 / 9:28 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-Toronto index gains on oil prices, Fed optimism

* TSX rises 0.73 percent to 9,416.31

* Energy group leads climb, Talisman up 7 pct

* Fed says pace of U.S. economic deterioration slowing (Adds details, updates numbers)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, April 29 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose 0.73 percent on Wednesday as higher oil prices and upbeat corporate earnings sparked renewed interest in equities after two straight declining sessions.

The price of oil, a key Canadian export, rose above $51 a barrel on optimism that the U.S. recession is easing, allowing the TSX index’s oil and gas group to reclaim some of the ground it lost over the past two sessions.

Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO led overall gainers, rising 6.97 percent to C$15.35 as its first-quarter profit beat expectations due to a hefty jump in production and lower operating costs. It also raised its twice-yearly dividend. [ID:nBNG470353]

EnCana (ECA.TO) was also a key gainer, rising 1.89 percent to C$55.49.

Stocks got an additional lift in the afternoon as the U.S. Federal Reserve said the pace of deterioration in the economy appeared to be slowing. It said, however, it would continue to keep interest rates exceptionally low for an extended period. [ID:nN29410693]

“The comments indicate they do see signs of stabilization in the economy, which has been the dominant theme that has been driving investor trading for the last month or so,” said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 68.28 points, or 0.73 percent, to 9,416.31. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 rose 0.7 percent to 570.57.

Six of the TSX’s 10 main sectors were higher, led by a 1.77 percent gain by the energy group.

The mining-heavy materials group was up 1.4 percent as gold prices rose in volatile trade. Picardo said gold-mining stocks have been underperforming because the precious metal has not been strong lately as the “doom-and-gloom” economic scenario starts to recede.

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) rose 0.14 percent to C$35.65 as it reported a drop in quarterly profit but predicted new developments in the pipeline would help reduce costs and widen profit margins down the road. [ID:nN29394219]

On the downside, a couple of quarterly reports disappointed investors. TMX Group Inc (X.TO) dropped more than 10 percent to C$34.09 as the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange said profit rose by almost a third, but results missed analysts’ forecasts as some stock trading revenue dropped and expenses rose. [ID:nN29395897]

Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) fell 1.2 percent to C$29.24. It said first-quarter profit slipped as a drop in advertising at its media division offset solid performances from its wireless and cable divisions. [ID:nN29251172]

Worries arising from swine flu eased a little as investors took a step back to await further developments to be able to gauge the seriousness of the outbreak.

Since the first cases were reported in Mexico last week, 160 people have died. The World Health Organization said on Wednesday the outbreak showed clear signs of spreading around the world. [ID:nFLU]

$1=$1.20 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway

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