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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended little changed on Friday, supported by firmness in materials and technology issues, but weaker than expected U.S. economic data kept it under pressure through the day.
The United States, the world's biggest economy, grew at a pace that fell short of economists' forecasts. That fueled worries about U.S. growth in 2012 and added to expectations that the Federal Reserve would need to provide more help.
"The optimism in the new year is still there, even though the news out of the U.S. in terms of the economic growth was weaker than expected," said Marcus Xu, director of equity investments at Genus Capital Management in Vancouver .
"On the other hand, we emphasize there hasn't been any major news out of the euro zone. At this point, no news is good news."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session up 2.18 points, or 0.02 percent, at 12,466.50, with just two of its 10 main sectors higher.
Materials rose 1.5 percent and information technology climbed 1.2 percent.
The index was up 0.6 percent for the week, rising for the sixth week in a row.
Key stocks on the upside included Potash Corp POT.TO, up 3.5 percent at C$47.58, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which climbed 1 percent to C$49.46. <GOL/>
Research In Motion RIM.TO was a key gainer, rising 3.1 percent to C$16.79, as Fairfax Financial FFH.TO, the firm controlled by investor Prem Watsa, has more than doubled its stake in RIM. The move was seen as a vote of confidence in the struggling BlackBerry maker.
On the downside, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) slipped 0.9 percent to C$77.15, while Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) retreated 0.7 percent to C$52.33. Financials shed 0.7 percent on lingering effects of the U.S. Federal Reserve's pledge to keep rates low until 2014, cutting into bank loan margins.
"The financials have been beaten up pretty badly and they're still struggling today, so that's a big part of our market. They haven't decided which way they want to go," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.
"I think the Fed pledge to keep rates low hurts the banks. They had been doing not too badly until that came out and they just plummeted on that news. That's the big overhang in that sector."
Reporting By Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson