TSX rally ends, but posts best week this year

Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:46pm EST
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - A three-day rally by Canadian stocks fizzled on Friday as a pullback in bullion prices knocked gold miners lower, offsetting a boost from rising oil prices and optimism over a further easing of the European debt crisis.

While Toronto's main stock index ended slightly lower on the day, it still notched its best weekly gain this year, rising more than 2 percent on the strength of a long-awaited Greek debt swap deal and further signs of U.S. economic health.

"We've taken the systemic risk issue off the table, at least in the short term. We have stronger than expected U.S. economic data and we have reasonable evaluations," said Paul Taylor chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management. "Equities trade higher on that."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 5.51 points at 12,725.77.

The heavyweight materials sector slid 0.8 percent, pulled lower by gold miners as bullion retreated from the three-month high it hit on Thursday.

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) and Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), Canada's top gold producers, both slid more than 1 percent, with Barrick finishing at C$48.85 and Goldcorp at C$48.64.

Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO: Quote) plunged 9.1 percent to C$15.90 after the miner reported an increase in quarterly net profit on Thursday, but said adjusted earnings from continuing operations fell 9 percent and costs rose 20 percent.

Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO: Quote) defied the broader drop, rising 1.3 percent to C$15.05 after it reported a more than 50 percent increase in 2011 earnings from operations.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch