March 9, 2012 / 3:44 PM / 5 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX firms on US jobs, but gold limits gain

3 Min Read

* TSX up 14.16 points, or 0.1 pct, at 12,476.09

* U.S. jobs data beats market forecasts

* Canadian job market stalls

* Gold miners as prices drop

* Neo Materials soars 38 pct on takeover news

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 9 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was slightly higher on Friday morning but gains made on bullish U.S. employment data were limited by weakness in gold miners as bullion prices dropped.

Figures showed the U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent. That helped push global equity markets and the U.S. dollar higher, but weighed on safe-haven gold.

Leading names on the upside in Toronto included Suncor Energy, up 0.4 percent at C$34.40, and Toronto-Dominion Bank, up 0.3 percent at C$81.97. On the downside was Barrick Gold, down 1.1 percent at C$45.16, and Goldcorp , down 0.3 percent at C$46.96.

Gold tends to fall when the dollar rises as it becomes profitable for non-U.S. investors to sell their U.S. dollar-priced bullion holdings for local currencies. As well, greater confidence in the U.S. economy lessens the attraction of safe-haven investments such as gold.

Also in focus was news that Greece had averted the immediate threat of debt default, winning strong acceptance from private creditors for a bond swap deal that clears the way for a new bailout.

"We had a good (U.S.) payroll number. That's a good thing. The Greek debt got taken care of," said Pat McHugh, Canadian equity strategist at Manulife Asset Management. "But the way the market is - and it's a bit perverse - is that the market sells on the news. So you have a couple of cross currents here."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 14.16 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,476.09, with nine of its 10 main sectors higher. Its materials group, which includes gold miners, fell 0.1 percent.

The U.S. jobs report overshadowed Canada's employment data, which showed the country unexpectedly failed to create any new jobs in February, continuing a trend of stalled employment despite signs of a healthy domestic economy and a comeback by the U.S. job market.

In company news, shares of Canada's Neo Material Technologies soared 38.4 percent to C$11.03 on Friday morning after U.S. rare-earth miner Molycorp said it would buy the rare-earth processing company in a C$1.3 billion deal.

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