TSX flat as gold gains offset weak global data

Thu May 24, 2012 5:48pm EDT
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks were little changed in choppy trade on Thursday as gold mining gains offset a slew of weak data from Europe, China and the United States, which added to fears about global growth.

U.S. financial markets will have a long weekend, closing on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

On Wednesday the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rallied 300 points to finish sharply higher. Twenty-four hours later another late-afternoon surge in gold mining stocks helped the index avert a loss and end up for the third day in a row.

"The swings are showing how nervous the European situation is overshadowing our markets," said Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS Securities Canada. "It can be great news or awful news and it happens moment by moment."

On Thursday, markets were boosted late by comments from Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who said in an interview on a television talk show that he believed Greece would remain in the euro zone.

The TSX finished up 1.27 points, or 0.01 percent, at 11,566.07, rebounding nearly 100 points after hitting a session low at 11,472.75. It was also its highest close in 10 days.

Gains were led by the heavyweight materials sector, which includes gold miners, which rose 0.7 percent. Gold stocks rallied for the second straight day as bullion halted its three-day slide, boosted by International Monetary Fund data showing another rise in central bank gold holdings in April. <GOL/>

The most influential gainers included Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO: Quote), up 5.3 percent at C$11.00, Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO: Quote), which climbed 2.4 percent to C$11.96 and Kinross Gold (K.TO: Quote), up 2 percent to C$8.65.   Continued...

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