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* S&P/TSX composite ends down 6.70 points at 11,947.13
* Index rises as high as 12,070, then retreats
* Falling energy, bank shares balanced by rising materials (Updates prices, adds quotes, details)
TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock market index finished little changed on Monday after climbing above 12,000 for the first time since September 2008, with weakness in heavyweight financial and energy issues offsetting strength in the index's materials group.
Oil and gas stocks surged at the open but then retreated rapidly with Talisman Energy TLM.TO leading the way with a 3.55 percent drop to C$19.85 on volume of more than 5 million shares, about twice the usual level over the past three months.
Talisman, an independent oil explorer, said it would raise its capital spending this year but expects little production growth. [ID:nSGE60A0F4]
EnCana Corp (ECA.TO), down 1.3 percent at C$35.52, and Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO), down 0.28 percent at C$38.58, were also among the top decliners as the price of oil fell from a 15-month high near $84 a barrel. [O/R]
Financials were also a major drag on the index with four of the five big banks in the red, as well as the three big insurers. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) dropped 0.97 percent to C$47, while Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) lost 0.53 percent to C$20.68. Bucking the trend, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) led all heavyweight risers, up 0.71 percent to C$64.18.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 6.70 points at 11,947.13. The index rose as high as 12,070.74 at the start of trade, partly on the back of stronger-than-expected Chinese trade data, reviving bets on global economic recovery. But the gains failed to hold. [ID:nSGE60A01E]
"It's been a very disappointing market," said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal. "We had a nice strong start, above key resistance levels, and basically we've been drifting down all day."
He said U.S. earnings season, which began with aluminum producer Alcoa's narrower fourth-quarter net loss, reported after markets, would probably provide a key to the market's near-term direction.
Market players are looking for revenue growth and profit growth that is not based on cost-cutting as further proof that economies are emerging from recession.
On the plus side, a five-week high in the price of bullion lifted gold-mining issues. Among the top gainers, shares of Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) (ABX.TO), the world's biggest gold producer, gained 0.61 percent to C$43.00.
Irwin Michael, a portfolio manager at ABC Funds, warned investors not to read too much into the TSX index piercing the 12,000 level.
"The market is still very thin, people are still very edgy," he said, referring to many traders' expectations that the market is still due for a correction after its Christmas rally.
($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng and Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway)