April 25, 2008 / 8:08 PM / 11 years ago

Toronto stocks ride oil-price tide to sharp gain

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index drove higher on Friday, helped by oil and other resource companies as crude prices surged amid supply disruptions and geopolitical tension.

Gains in its energy sector helped the resource-heavy benchmark climb more than 130 points, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was up C$2.99, or 2.6 percent, at C$117.27, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) added C$2.31, or 2.8 percent, to C$85.56.

Overall, the sector rose 2.2 percent as crude, a key underlying commodity, rallied in the wake of supply disruptions in Nigeria and the North Sea. Further tensions between Iran and the United States also helped push up oil $2.46 to $118.52 a barrel.

“Clearly we saw another day where the energies and the materials are driving the TSX,” said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We’re back to a market that’s ignoring what’s happening south of the border in terms of worries about the economy, and is very focused on the higher price of commodities.”

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 137.54 points, or 0.98 percent, at 14,103.87 with six of its 10 main sectors rising.

High-flying fertilizer companies Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO and Agrium AGU.TO extended their recent surge on growing demand and record prices for fertilizer.

Potash Corp vaulted C$13.50, or 6.9 percent, to C$210.40, and Agrium rose C$4.44, or 5.2 percent, to C$90.30.

The materials sector climbed 2.5 percent, while its gold producers subindex added 1.8 percent. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) was up C$1.09, or 1.8 percent, at C$63.35, and Goldcorp (G.TO) advanced 59 Canadian cents, or 1.6 percent, to C$37.34.

Aurelian Resources ARU.TO rallied 97 Canadian cents, or 29.6 percent, to C$4.25 on news that Ecuador’s president has met with a group of Canadian miners with concessions in the country to reassure them about the future of mining there.

Iamgold (IMG.TO), which also has concessions in Ecuador, pushed up 11 Canadian cents, or 1.9 percent, to C$5.93.

On the downside, Research In Motion RIM.TO lost C$3.52, or 2.8 percent, to C$122.25 after a report that a high-speed wireless version of its BlackBerry device for U.S. phone company AT&T (T.N) is facing delays. Both RIM and AT&T declined comment.

Analysts said that overall optimism over corporate results that have been released so far has helped put some confidence in the market.

“The earnings reports that have come out in the last little while haven’t been that bad - certainly better than some of the negative participants in the market had thought,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

The composite index is off 0.9 percent for the week but is still up 5.6 percent for the month following a strong rally in recent weeks. Earlier in the week, the index climbed to its highest point for the year so far, before easing back on profit-taking and softer commodity prices.

The feeling that while the problems in the credit market haven’t been solved, they aren’t getting worse is also improving sentiment in the market, Warne said.

Market volume was 351 million shares worth C$7.1 billion. Advancers outpaced decliners 905 to 643. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 8.58 points, or 1.04 percent, at 837.30.

In New York, better-than-expected results from American Express (AXP.N) helped the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rise 42.91 points, or 0.33 percent, to 12,891.86. But a weak profit forecast from Microsoft (MSFT.O) dragged the Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC down 5.99 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,422.93.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Editing by Peter Galloway

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