TSX ends week flat on mixed messages

Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:38pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks closed slightly higher on Friday as banks gained ground ahead of earnings due next week, but global uncertainty lingered and gold miners retreated from a recent rally.

Direction was muted as investors held back, leaving the benchmark Canadian index at roughly the same level it started the week.

"The week is ending on a quiet note," said Pat McHugh, Canadian equity strategist at Manulife Asset Management. "It hasn't been a great day for good news."

The continuing saga of the European debt crisis hurt sentiment, while conflicting views from officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve muddied the outlook for monetary easing in Canada's main trading partner.

"The market is reflecting on the fact that there are still some problems in the world," said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung Investment Management.

Looking ahead, all eyes turn to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bank leaders when they meet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week for an annual get-together that often hints at what monetary policy is to come.

"Everyone will be looking forward to that to find out indication on timing and any indications of what sort of vehicles or options or strategies they will be implementing," Manulife's McHugh said.

In the meantime, the main Canadian index gained as heavyweight banks moved higher and telecom companies also rose.   Continued...

People walk past an electronic board displaying the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch