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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index finished little changed on Tuesday, with weakness in the energy sector offset by Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) stock, following an update on the company's production outlook and a plan to be more transparent on how it reports mining costs.
Investor sentiment was cautious at the start of the U.S. earnings season with U.S. stocks retreating from last week's rally to five-year highs. Investors anticipate lukewarm quarterly results and analyst estimates are down sharply from October..N
"It's cautious in part because the comparables versus a year ago will be difficult. More importantly investors are looking for insight on the outlook for the next three months or 12 months," said Robert McWhirter, president and portfolio manager at Selective Asset Management.
Shares of Goldcorp, Canada's second largest gold miner, rose 3.23 percent, to C$35.81, making it the index's most influential positive stock. The overall materials sector, home to miners, gained 0.24 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) shares, however, were down 1.28 percent at C$33.14 after the world's top gold miner said it had ended talks to sell a stake in its African Barrick Gold ABGL.L subsidiary to a Chinese buyer.
"There is a disappointment with that as it could have freed up some capital for them," McWhirter said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 5.26 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,504.81. Six of the index's 10 main sectors edged higher.
Investors were approaching earnings season with a mixture of hope and caution, said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.
"People are hoping that 2013 will be a better year than it was in 2012, particularly in Canada. But there's still a lot of confusion, a lot of cash on the sidelines," he said.
The heavily weighted financials group advanced 0.12 percent, led by Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO), which saw Barclays raise its price target. The large insurer rose 2.57 percent to C$14.39.
Energy stocks retreated 0.4 percent and the mining subgroup fell 1.17 percent.
Oil and gas companies tracked softer U.S. crude prices, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) falling 1.48 percent to C$29.34, the biggest drag on the index. Encana Corp (ECA.TO) was off 1.86 percent to C$19.55.
Diversified mining firm Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO fell 2.56 percent to C$36.20.
Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO said it may seek partners for its Canadian shale-gas holdings. The company's shares rose 1.20 percent to C$11.76.
Additional reporting by John Tilak; editing by Carol Bishopric