TSX ends higher for fifth day on broad-based gains

By - Reuters

By Fergal Smith

(Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday to its highest closing level in three weeks as easing stress in the global banking supported a broad-based rally heading into the end of the first quarter of the year.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 103.34 points, or 0.5%, at 19,940.99, its highest closing level since March 9.

It was the fifth straight day of gains for the index, its longest winning run since January. Since the start of the year, the index has advanced 2.9%.

"The situation with the banking system seems to have calmed down," said Steve Palmer, founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer.

Investors had worried that stress in the banking sector could lead to a credit crunch, crimping the economic outlook.

"Sentiment remains very negative," Palmer said. "If everybody is negative, there is only one way to go. People will start throwing in the towel on that call."

The energy sector rose 0.4% as oil settled 1.9% higher at $74.37 a barrel, while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.5%.

It was helped by a gain of 6.6% for the shares of Filo Mining Corp after CIBC started coverage of the miner with an "outperform" rating and a target price of C$38.

Of the 10 major sectors, only healthcare lost ground. Technology rose 0.7% and consumer staples was up 1.1%.

Meanwhile, ATCO Ltd has agreed to transfer ownership to Mexico of an unfinished pipeline bogged down in a dispute with the Mexican state power company, two officials told Reuters, marking a rare breakthrough in ongoing tensions over energy.

The company's shares ended up 1.6%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Jonathan Oatis)

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