December 30, 2008 / 3:37 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX edges higher, led by financials

* Eight groups advance, financials lead

* Oil falls more than $1/barrel, weighs on energy sector

* Sliding gold price leads materials group lower

TORONTO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose on Tuesday morning as advances in financial and industrial shares offset declines in resources on retreating gold and oil prices.

At 10:30 a.m. (1500 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 52.54 points, or 0.61 percent, at 8,689.83.

The index began the session slightly lower but gains from eight of the index’s 10 main groups outweighed a drag from the oil and gas and materials sectors, which had advanced strongly in the previous session.

The heavily-weighted financials group was up 1.6 percent, as Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) were among the biggest movers on the index.

The industrial, consumer discretionary, retailers and telecoms were all more than 1 percent higher.

Oil fell below $40 a barrel, pressured by gloom about prospects for world economic growth which outweighed heightened tensions in the Middle East due to the Israeli-Hamas conflict. For details, see [ID:nSIN393322].

The oil and gas sector was off 0.8 percent, with top names such as Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) and EnCana (ECA.TO) posting declines of 0.8 percent each.

The materials sector was off 1.1 percent, as gold miners slumped alongside lower gold prices while rising fertilizer issues and other miners provided an offset.

Potash Corp POT.TO gained 1 percent to C$90.31 and Agrium AGU.TO rose 2.1 percent to C$39.72. But Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) lose 1 percent to C$44.87.

Volume is expected to be light again with the trading week shortened by the New Year’s Day holiday on Thursday.

$1=$1.23 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng

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