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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended lower on Wednesday after briefly touching a 17-month high as a weak bullion price and a disappointing production report from miner Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO) pulled gold-mining stocks lower.
Iamgold dropped 14.6 percent to C$9.22 after the gold miner projected higher operating costs and said 2012 output came in below its forecast.
The decline in gold prices also weighed on shares of Centerra Gold CG.TO, down 8.2 percent at C$8.60, and Kinross Gold (K.TO), which dropped 3.3 percent to C$9.48.
The golds helped pull the TSX materials sector down 1.21 percent, one of five of the 10 index subgroups to decline during the session, but the only one to change by more than 1 percent.
All told, S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 30.58 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,794.05.
The index has been running steadily higher since mid November and briefly touched a 17-month high of 12,828.93 on Wednesday before retreating.
Stronger economic signals from Europe, expectations of robust corporate profits and steady commodity prices are all reason to expect the index can continue to rise, said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
"The elements are in place for stock markets to be significantly higher," he said. "Whether or not people want to pay up for those stocks is another story."
Also weighing on the market were financial shares, which slid 0.19 percent, giving up some of their recent gains. They were led lower by Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which slipped 0.5 percent to C$61.44, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), which eased 0.4 percent to C$83.15.
The tiny health care sector advanced 0.5 percent, while telecoms gained 0.28 percent.
One of the strongest gainers was grocer Metro Inc MRU.TO, which rose 3.3 percent to C$64.79 after it said late on Tuesday it would sell nearly half of its stake in convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATDb.TO) for C$479 million.
Editing by Peter Galloway