January 11, 2008 / 4:16 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks edge higher, pulled up by gold

(Updates with analyst comment)

TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index edged into positive territory on Friday morning, recovering from early losses as bullish gold-mining stocks offset news that the U.S. banking sector took another mortgage-related hit.

Meanwhile, the shares of Shaw Communications Inc (SJRb.TO) dove after Canada’s No. 2 cable and satellite-TV company reported a higher quarterly profit, but lower than expected revenue and mixed subscriber results. For details, see: [nN11282726]

The TSX gold-mining sub-sector remained the darling of the index, rising 2.4 percent as U.S. gold futures rose to a record above $900 an ounce. Spot gold hovered around $896 an ounce.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 15.58 points, or 0.1 percent, at 13,658.23. It had fallen more than 60 points earlier in the session.

The materials and energy groups were alone in positive territory. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world No. 1 gold producer, gained C$1.95 to C$51.95.

TSX technology and telecom stocks felt the most pain overall, each down 0.9 percent with Research In Motion RIM.TO off C$3.70 at C$98.10, and Shaw off C$1.12 at C$21.72.

Weighing on stock markets was a New York Times report that Merrill Lynch & Co MER.N will incur bigger-than-expected mortgage-related losses, another blast of bad news for the U.S. economy.

Some Canadian financial institutions have revealed writedowns related to the battered U.S. mortgage market, and several observers expect more to come.

“The credit contraction continues ... and I think it will cause a fairly serious contraction of the U.S. economy and of the economies of the world,” said Douglas Davis, president at Davis-Rea in Toronto.

Among financial stocks, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was 23 Canadian cents lower at C$50.09.

Meanwhile, job losses in Canada in December were well above expectations, suggesting the country may have reached the top of its economic cycle. For details, see: [nN11501130] ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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