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Toronto stocks snatch meager gain on banks, oils

By Blaise Robinson

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, which 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, though a still-hefty 360 million shares worth C$5.6 billion changed hands.

"You saw very strong job numbers in the U.S. on Friday which I think made people worry that U.S. interest rates will rise more than expected, but at the same time it's obviously good news for the Canadian economy," said Gavin Graham, chief investment officer at Guardian Group of Funds.

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.

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.

The financial group gained 0.25 percent as all five big banks rose.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce climbed 47 Canadian cents, or 0.59 percent, to C$79.88, and Royal Bank of Canada was up 37 Canadian cents, or 0.41 percent, at


In the materials sector, Dofasco ended up 3 Canadian cents at C$70.51, despite reporting a 71 percent slide in quarterly profit.

The steelmaker, in the midst of being taken over by Europe's Arcelor , cited higher input costs and lower steel prices.

The health-care group shed 1.29 percent, with TLC Vision sinking 25 percent, or C$2.34, to C$6.74, after OccuLogix Inc. , majority-owned by TLC, said a pivotal phase 3 trial of its RHEO system to treat age-related blindness had failed to meet goals. OccuLogix plunged C$9.83, or 67.6 percent, to C$4.72.

The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index <.TSE60> closed 0.13 points, or 0.02 percent, higher at 670.43.

South of the border, U.S. stocks ended lower, as a report showing stronger job and wage growth fueled fears the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates further to curb inflation pressures and some earnings disappointed investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 58.36 points, or 0.54 percent, at 10,793.62, while the Nasdaq composite index <.IXIC> was down 18.99 points, or 0.83 percent, at 2,262.58. For the week, the Dow ended down 1.04 percent and the Nasdaq fell 1.81 percent.

($1=$1.15 Canadian)

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