* TSX up 85.05 pts, or 0.7 pct, at 12,447.08
* Materials, energy issues lead gains
* U.S. data, Greek debt hopes lift sentiment
* Barrick Gold earnings weigh
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Feb 16 Toronto's main stock index
bounced higher by midday Thursday, reversing early losses, as
energy shares were lifted by rising oil prices and strong U.S.
data, while optimism over a Greek debt deal offset softer than
expected earnings by Barrick Gold.
Oil and gas producers pulled the index into positive
territory after Brent crude prices climbed to $120 a barrel on
Iran supply concerns and an expected drop in North Sea output.
Energy gains were led by Canadian Natural resources
, which rose 1.3 percent to C$36.88. Cenovus Energy
was up 1.4 percent at C$38.62 after Canada's No. 2
independent oil producer said on Wednesday its quarterly profit
tripled on production gains.
Risk sentiment was also buoyed by upbeat data that suggested
the U.S. economic recovery remained healthy as jobless claims
fell to a near a four-year low and housing starts rose in
The signs of U.S. growth helped the heavyweight materials
sector reverse early losses from weaker fourth-quarter earnings
by Barrick Gold. The world's largest gold miner saw its
share price drop 0.6 percent to C$47.26 after its quarterly
profit rose 15 percent, but fell short of expectations.
The sector's decline was offset by healthy results from
Goldcorp Inc, which rose 3.4 percent to C$46.77, and by
Kinross Gold Corp, which jumped 6.2 percent to C$10.98.
"It's somewhat neutral on the whole," said Gareth Watson,
vice-president of investment management and research at wealth
management firm Richardson GMP. "But when you have these
larger-weighted companies coming in with neutral it really
doesn't do a lot for the index."
At noon, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite
index was up 85.05 points, or 0.7 percent, to
The market extended gains on signs of progress to secure a
bailout for Greece after a report on Thursday said euro zone
central banks agreed on a Greek bond swap as part of a deal to
help the debt-laden nation.
In Canada, financial issues were up, led by Bank of Nova
Scotia, which climbed 1 percent to C$53.38.
Greece needs the bailout to finance major bond redemptions
due next month, which if not met could wreak havoc with
liquidity in European financial markets due to hefty Greek debt
holdings in the form of credit default swaps and insurance
On Thursday, Moody's warned it may cut the credit ratings of
17 global banks and 114 European financial institutions in
another sign the impact of the euro zone debt crisis is
spreading throughout the world's financial system.
"Once you start bringing up liquidity issues in the market,
the market becomes extremely tentative, if not negative," said