CANADA STOCKS-TSX ekes out small gain, hits 17-month high

Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:35pm EST
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* TSX up 18.64 points, or 0.16 percent, at 11,979.70

* Highest closing level since September 2008

* Financials, golds help keep TSX above water

* China inflation data weighs on base metal miners (Adds details, quotes)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 11 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index eked out a small gain on Thursday, reaching its highest close in 17 months and finishing higher for a second straight session, thanks to strength in financials and gold miners.

The financial sector rose 0.4 percent, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) up 0.4 percent at C$59.40, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) ahead 0.5 percent at C$58.05.

Canadian banks followed the lead of U.S. banks, which climbed higher as chances of a broad overhaul of U.S. financial regulation dimmed as bipartisan Senate talks collapsed. [ID:nN11219944] [.N]

Gold-mining shares firmed on largely steady gold prices, but gains were kept in check by lingering concerns about possible monetary tightening in China. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) added 1 percent to finish at C$40.05.   Continued...