CANADA STOCKS-TSX nears six-year high as energy shares extend rally

* TSX rises 53.87 points, or 0.37 percent, at 14,500.39
    * Index jumps 1.7 percent on week
    * Six of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Gold-mining shares slip with bullion

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
reached its highest in nearly six years on Thursday after
positive U.S. economic data drove gains in the price of oil,
which in turn lifted shares of oil producers. 
    The energy sector has advanced in each of the last five
sessions and added nearly 3 percent in the last two. Analysts
expect a strong showing from the group in the upcoming Canadian
earnings season. 
    Investors were encouraged by data that showed new
applications for U.S. unemployment benefits climbed slightly
last week and remained near their pre-recession levels, easing
some concerns about the recovery in the world's biggest economy.
    The market appeared to be calming down after a volatile
phase over concerns about stretched valuations and the Federal
Reserve's monetary policy.
    Fed Chair Janet Yellen reassured investors on Wednesday,
saying the U.S. economy appeared to be moving slowly toward full
employment but that it would need help from the U.S. central
bank for some time to come. 
    Global markets rallied on those comments, and the benchmark
Canadian index recorded its biggest gain in more than two months
on Wednesday.
    With the market to be closed for the Good Friday holiday,
trading volumes were below average levels.
    "It's a pretty quiet day, with the long weekend and with
relatively little macro news driving the market," said Ben Jang,
a portfolio manager at Nicola Wealth Management. "Things have
turned positive but on relatively low volume."
    "As the economy improves, you'll see more rotation from the
growth and hyper-growth names to the value-oriented," he added.
"This rotation is healthy as it's a sign of more normalized
capital markets."
    Jang, who helps manage about C$2.5 billion in assets,
expects both the Canadian and U.S. markets to record high
single-digit gains this year.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 53.87 points, or 0.37 percent, at 14,500.39.
It added 1.7 percent this week.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
climbed 0.5 percent. Insurer Manulife Financial Corp 
added 1.4 percent to C$20.66, and rival Sun Life Financial Inc
 advanced 1.5 percent to C$36.85.
    Shares of energy producers jumped 1.3 percent. Suncor Energy
Inc climbed 0.8 percent to C$40.47, and Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd rose 1.5 percent to C$44.75.
    The bullion price slipped, weighing on gold-mining
shares. Barrick Gold Corp shed 1.9 percent to C$19.81.
    ($1=$1.10 Canadian)

 (Editing by Peter Galloway and James Dalgleish)