TSX ends lower, but still up for the week

Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:11pm EST
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks fell slightly on Friday as earnings-related drops in gold-mining and financial issues offset optimism that Greece will seal a long-awaited bailout deal next week and avoid a messy debt default.

Soft earnings from Canada's top gold miners this week dragged on the heavyweight materials sector, which fell 1 percent. Financial shares were down 0.1 percent, hurt by a big quarterly loss reported by Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO: Quote).

Among miners, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) fell 2.4 percent to C$46.83 after the country's largest gold producer reported an increase in quarterly operating profit on Thursday, but still fell short of expectations.

Smaller miners Kinross Gold (K.TO: Quote) and Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO: Quote) also weighed after both reported big impairment charges. Kinross was down 1.8 percent at C$10.87, and Agnico-Eagle fell 3.5 percent to C$35.27.

Gold-mining stocks have been helped by a 10 percent rise in spot gold so far this year, but the precious metal's price has recently begun to fluctuate with the euro and on Friday it fell.

"You're seeing the (gold) stocks reflect a bit more of that volatility," said Craig Fehr, Canadian investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. "It's more about what the specific companies are doing in terms operation as opposed to just participating in the huge updraft from the rising price in gold."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 27.29 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,458.30 on Friday. The index was still up 0.6 percent for the week.

The index fell despite news that Greece was close to an agreement with euro zone policymakers on a debt swap deal. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday he was "cautiously optimistic" that European leaders would resolve the Greek debt crisis next week.   Continued...

A man walks down the street from the King and Bay intersection in the financial district in Toronto, February 22, 2011.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch