Canadian stocks soared on Thursday, following the lead of foreign markets, and are on pace to close at their best level in almost three month. The energy sector has seen notable gains with crude oil up more than $4 per barrel.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index has surged 146.45 or 1.63% to 9,088.27. The index touched above 9,100 for the first time since Feb. 9 earlier in the session.

Energy stocks has surged 4.9% to lead the way as crude oil jumped above $52 per barrel. Light sweet crude oil for May delivery moved to $52.70, up $4.31 for the session.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is up 5.2% and Petro-Canada (PCA.TO) has gained 5.5%. The companies said Thursday they have canceled their annual shareholder meetings, which were scheduled for later this month. Instead, the annual meeting of Suncor has been combined with a special meeting to consider the amalgamation by way of an arrangement of Suncor and Petro-Canada on June 4.

Industrial stocks are up 4.1%. Bombardier (BBD-B.TO) has rallied 11.2% after the company reported fourth-quarter net income of US$309 million or US$0.17 per share, compared to US$218 million or US$0.12 per share last year. The company also announced plans to cut another 3,000 jobs.

Financials are up 3.2%. Scotiabank (BNS.TO) has gained 2% and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) has added 1.75% to lead the way.

In other corporate news, Nortel (NT.TO) has rallied 8.9% after the company said it launched Smart Power Management Software that helps reduce radio network power consumption in GSM networks and delivers significant energy and cost-savings for mobile operators.

Air Canada (AC.A.TO) has surged 9.3% after the Globe and Mail reported the airliner may change its strategy of charging fees for extra services such as additional luggage and sandwiches under new Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu.

Across the border, a Labor Department report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 650,000 from the 652,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The S&P/Composite Index added 221.43 points or 2.53% to 8,941.82. The index reached a six-day closing high after hitting a 10-day low earlier this week.

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