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The close: TSX, Wall Street end dismal year with small gains Add to ...

The Toronto stock market has ended a horrible 2008 trading year down a stunning 35 per cent - but ended the last session of the year with a strong, triple-digit advance, led by gains in financials and energy, the two biggest sectoral decliners of the year.     New York markets rose following jobless claims data that was better than expected.     Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 156.98 points to 8,987.7, its third consecutive triple-digit jump.     The Canadian dollar closed up a fifth of a US cent to 82.1 cents. The rise capped a year when the loonie retreated 18.7 per cent for the year as the slowing economy and collapsing commodity prices dragged it down from just above parity with the U.S. dollar at the start of 2008. The S&P 500 rose 12.61, or 1.42 percent, to 903.25. The Dow Jones industrial average, which sustained a year-to-date loss of about 34 per cent, was up 108 points to 8,776.39.     The Nasdaq composite index added 26.33 points to 1,577.03, losing 40 per cent on the year while the S&P 500 index edged up 12.63 to 903.27 to lose 38 per cent during 2008.

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