CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on broad gains, playing catch-up

Reuters

By Allison Martell TORONTO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index opened broadly higher on Friday, extending a two-week rally that has been fed by growing optimism about global economic growth.

Financial stocks, the mining-heavy materials sector and energy shares led the index higher.

The Toronto Stock Exchange was closed for the Boxing Day holiday on Thursday, when U.S. equity markets, where many Canadian companies also trade, pushed higher.

Paul Hand, managing director of RBC Capital Markets, said Canadian stocks were catching up to their U.S. counterparts in early trading. He said many traders were still on vacation.

"The market has been basically in rally mode - there's been very little news over the holiday period," he said. "The glass has been half full for a lot of people in the last few months." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index touched 13,590.80, its highest intra-day level since June 2011. The index was up 58.66 points, or 0.43 percent, at 13,576.68 about an hour into the session.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's assurance last week that it would keep its key interest rate at rock bottom longer than previously promised - even as it trimmed asset purchases - kicked off a global rally in stocks.

The news resolved uncertainty that had been hanging over the markets, and investors were cheered by the fact that greater confidence in the economic recovery had spurred on the Fed.

On Friday, materials stocks gained 0.86 percent as gold edged higher and copper prices hit their highest point in more than four months, boosted by tightening supply and optimism about the recovery.

Energy stocks rose 0.32 percent as oil prices rose, and financial shares were up 0.31 percent.

Toronto-Dominion Bank played the biggest role in pushing the index higher, rising 0.7 percent to C$99.68. Potash Corp rose 1.9 percent to C$35.30 and Suncor Energy Inc rose 0.9 percent to C$37.21.

In company news, Bega Cheese Ltd, the largest shareholder in Saputo Inc's latest takeover target, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co Holdings Co, said it is in talks with "non-Australian" investors on a possible sale of its stake.

In September Bega kicked off a takeover battle with dairy giant Saputo and another Australian cheese maker, but the company declined to extend its final offer last week. Saputo rose 0.5 percent to C$48.64 in early trading.

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