* Bullion price lifts gold miners
* Goldcorp, Kinross announce higher output plans
* Energy, financials help keep TSX in positive territory
* Market braces for Friday’s Canadian, U.S. jobs data (Adds details, analyst comment)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher in a late-session burst on Thursday with the materials group boosted by strength in gold-mining issues as bullion prices rose.
Financial and energy stocks were also modestly higher, helping to keep the overall index in positive territory. They started the day lower, contributing to the benchmark’s sharp early drop.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished 1.1 percent higher, up 100.26 points at 9,221.58. Five of its 10 main groups rose. Industrials and healthcare had healthy gains, while tech and consumer issues dragged.
The materials group rose 2.7 percent, pushed up by gold miners, which climbed on safe-haven buying.
The gold price rose almost 2 percent in a rally sparked by a weaker greenback as the U.S. deficit is expected to balloon on proposed economic stimulus packages aimed at lifting the economy from recession.
Gold issues were also lifted by news from two miners announcing healthy production increases.
Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 1.8 percent to C$33.59 after it forecast this year’s production would match 2008 levels and announced plans for a 50 percent jump in output over the next five years. [ID:nN08526827]
Kinross Gold (K.TO) said late Wednesday it plans to spend $460 million this year boosting production by 32 percent to as much as 2.5 million ounces. Kinross gained 6.4 percent to C$21.57.
“Gold is a very good refuge and safe haven,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
“It appears that in the sea of red ink, the printing of money will eventually have inflationary implications and the U.S. dollar has come under pressure. The U.S. dollar is expected to come under more pressure and that is always good for gold,” Ing said.
Consumer stocks slumped, partly on U.S. discounter Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) disappointing December sales and earnings warning, while Canadian drug store chain Jean Coutu Group (PJCa.TO) reported a quarterly loss. [ID:nN08257406]
“I think the Wal-Mart numbers just reinforce the idea that consumers are cutting back more and more towards just necessities,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel.
The Wal-Mart news sent a chill through U.S. stocks early in the day as it raised concern the recession may be deepening. But most U.S stocks rose after news that Citigroup Inc agreed to support legislation aimed at stemming home loan foreclosures.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 27.24 points, or 0.31 percent, to 8,742.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.95 points, or 1.12 percent, to 1,617.01.
December jobs figures from Canada and the United States on Friday will be closely watched for an update on the state of the deteriorating economy and add fuel to expectations that central banks will cut interest rates further.
The stock market has already sold off this week based on dismal U.S. private-sector jobs data and forecasts for the December numbers have since been adjusted.
“People should be anticipating a fairly negative number. If it comes in way beyond expectations, it will certainly push market further down,” Sprung said.
$1=$1.18 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway