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Friday, February 03, 2006

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto stocks managed to eke out a meager gain on Friday as energy issues teamed up with bank shares to offset lackluster gold-mining issues that sagged with bullion prices.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed up 7.71 points, or 0.06 percent, at 11,937.62, extending its gain for the week to 0.7 percent.

Market activity was quieter than the average of the past few weeks, with 360 million shares worth C$5.6 billion changing hands.

Overall, five of the TSX index's 10 main groups closed higher.

The gold-mining subindex, a component of the materials group, dropped 2.32 percent as U.S. gold futures retreated.

Gold lost $5.20, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $571.60, dragged down by a stronger a U.S. dollar after mixed economic data released on Friday.

A strong U.S. currency limits gold's appeal as an alternative investment.

All major producers lost ground, with Barrick Gold , the biggest drag on the TSX, down 88 Canadian cents, or 2.53 percent, at C$33.88.

The influential energy subindex, which is close to dethroning the financial sector as the heaviest group on the TSX, rallied late in the day to close with a 0.17 percent gain.

U.S. crude oil futures rebounded on Friday after a three-day slump, settling 69 cents higher at $65.37 a barrel amid renewed concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Canadian Natural Resources added 77 Canadian cents, or 1.09 percent, to C$71.29.

($1=$1.15 Canadian)

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