By Jennifer Kwan TORONTO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index rose sharply on Monday morning as oil and metals prices climbed and as optimism rose that global stimulus measures would avert a deeper slide in the economy. Heavily weighted stocks that propelled the market higher included oil company EnCana Corp, up 9 percent at C$55.42, and miner Barrick Gold, up 5.8 percent at $33.93. Toronto stocks followed equities around the world higher with investors focusing on a possible rescue plan for U.S. automakers, a proposed U.S. jobs plan and more government stimulus measures to try to reverse the economic malaise. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama unveiled stimulus plans at the weekend that featured the largest U.S. infrastructure program since the 1950s and the creation of 2.5 million jobs. For links to more stories see In China and Europe, leaders were set to plot next steps on Monday, while stimulus measures already presented, planned or pending helped push stock markets higher. 'Between those things that's enough to give cause for investors to step in,' said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Capital in Waterloo, Ontario. 'There is unprecedented amounts of money on the sidelines and this market is waiting for a reason to get into the market.' At around 10:45 a.m. (1545 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index was up 408.77 points, or 5.04 percent, at 8,525.80, with all 100 of its main groups higher. The big energy sector jumped 7.7 percent as oil rose above $44 a barrel as global equity markets soared amid the more optimistic outlook and on further evidence of supply cuts by top exporter Saudi Arabia. Canadian oil explorer Oilexco Inc, which operates in the North Sea, was one of the most heavily traded stocks, soaring 23.5 percent to C$1.79. According to a report in London's Sunday Times, the company has been put up for sale. The report said Oilexco had already received interest from BG Group, Talisman Energy and Petro-Canada, while Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk is also considering a bid. Strength in gold and base metals prices helped lift the materials sector, which rose 8 percent. Financials were up 4.4 percent with Bank of Nova Scotia ahead 5 percent at C$35.35, and Royal Bank of Canada higher by 5.2 percent at C$38.30. 'We're in the process of putting in a bottom in this market, but bottoms don't get put in in a day or a week or a month,' said Chandler. 'It often can take three to six months to put a bottom in and there can be several retests of the lows during that process. That's what we're going through.' As of Monday morning, the TSX composite was down about 40 percent from its June peak. ($1=$1.26 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson) Keywords: MARKETS CANADA STOCKS ([email protected]; +1 416 941 8178; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters.
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