(Adds comment, updates prices to close)
* TSX settles up 55.24 points, or 0.36 percent, at 15,554.04
* Eight of the TSX’s 10 main groups move higher
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index ended up on Wednesday after a slow start as an oil price rebound helped some energy stocks, and gold and base metal miners rose as political uncertainty boosted bullion and a likely squeeze on supply pushed copper prices higher.
The materials group, which includes miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.9 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp advanced 1.2 percent to C$25.75 and Goldcorp Inc rose 1.1 percent to C$22.27 as bullion hit a three-month peak.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd ended 2.3 percent higher at C$16.29 and Lundin Mining Corp jumped 4.4 percent to C$8.27 as copper prices rose after the world’s top two mines said strikes and permit delays would force them to cut output, squeezing global supply.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index settled up 55.24 points, or 0.36 percent, at 15,554.04. Eight of the index’s 10 groups ended higher, with advancers outnumbering declining issues by a 2.3-to-1 ratio.
The energy group ended 0.2 percent higher after a sharp retreat earlier in the session.
“We had an initial selloff on the complex and we managed to reverse that with some oversold characteristics,” said Sid Mokhtari, a market technician and director of institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets.
“If we give it some time, we should be able to get some better price action out of the oil patch in Canada.”
Oil prices rose slightly as investors covered short positions after a rise in U.S. crude inventories was not as massive as many had feared, while gasoline futures jumped 4 percent after a surprise decline in inventories of the fuel.
Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, Suncor Energy Inc fell 0.3 percent to C$40.51, while pipeline operator Enbridge Inc advanced 1.2 percent to C$56.31.
Bombardier Inc gained 2 percent to C$2.60 after Canada said it would provide the plane and train maker with C$372.5 million in repayable loans for two of its jet programs, causing Brazil to open a formal trade complaint.
Shares in Intact Financial Corp, the country’s largest property and casualty insurer, fell 1.5 percent to C$93.88 after the company missed quarterly operating profit expectations on weakness in its auto insurance business.
BlackBerry Ltd shares rose 1.4 percent to C$9.54. The company said on Tuesday it would make its BBM secure-messaging system available for software developers to build into their own products. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Leslie Adler)