TSX shrugs off U.S., Europe worries

Thu May 17, 2012 5:38pm EDT
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks ended a four-session slide on Thursday, eking out a slender gain, as a strong performance from gold miners offset financial losses on soft U.S. economic data and mounting worries about Greece and Europe's fragile banking sector.

Canada's sub-index of gold mining firms jumped nearly 6 percent as gold notched its largest one-day gain since late January. <GOL/>

The move in gold helped the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE outperform U.S. stocks, which hit a four-month low on Thursday. .N

"We've performed better than the U.S. markets today, which has not been the case for much of 2012 to this point," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

Canada's top gold producers, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) and Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), led the day's gains, both rising 6.9 percent to finish at C$38.16 and C$35.48, respectively. Smaller miners also jumped, with Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO: Quote) rising 5.8 percent to C$11.01 and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO: Quote) climbing 4.5 percent to C$13.79.

Gold was also boosted by Wednesday's release of the U.S. Federal Reserve's minutes from its most recent meeting in which policymakers kept alive the possibility of a fresh round of monetary stimulus for the moderately expanding U.S. economy.

"Gold for a very long time now has been reflecting the extremely easy monetary policies of the Fed and other central banks around the world," said Fehr.

Weak U.S. data on Thursday supported the case for further monetary easing. A gauge of future U.S. economic activity fell in April for the first time in seven months, and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business conditions index fell to its lowest level since September. U.S. jobless claims also underwhelmed.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch