By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed at its highest level in more than two years on Thursday, led by gold miners, as investors assumed the ill effects of the 16-day U.S. government shutdown would force the Federal Reserve to maintain its monetary stimulus.
The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved an 11th-hour deal to end the shutdown and pull the world's biggest economy back from the brink of a historic debt default that could have threatened financial calamity.
The temporary deal funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7.
With the price of bullion soaring 3 percent and Canada's many gold mining companies following suit, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index added 79.15 points, or 0.61 percent, to close at 13,036.36, its highest finish since late July, 2011.
"It seems like investors are starting to realize that this will probably delay any possible tapering by the Fed and markets are responding positively to that today," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners in Vancouver.
Barrick Gold Corp
"The Canadian market is holding up better than the American exchanges because we are seeing a bright spot in gold prices," said Gareth Watson, a vice president for investment management and research at Richardson GMP.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, but weak earnings from IBM and Goldman Sachs pulled the Dow industrials lower.
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc
The materials sector, which includes gold miners, was the driving force behind the TSX's gains, but utilities and financials also moved higher. Telecom and technology stocks weighed.
In a statement outlining its legislative priorities, the Canadian federal government late on Wednesday said it plans to lower mobile roaming rates and force television distributors such as Shaw Communications Inc
(Editing by Dan Grebler)