* TSX ends down 11.84 points, or 0.1 pct, at 13,821.80
* Seven of 10 main sectors lower, led by energy
* Golds offset broad-based weakness (Adds details, comments)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, April 14 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended slightly lower on Thursday as weaker energy and base-metal shares offset a rally in precious metal miners that was spurred by safe-haven buying of gold.
Seven of the TSX index’s 10 main groups were lower, with the energy sector leading the decline even though oil prices reversed early losses. [O/R]
The oil and gas group was down 0.7 percent with Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) sliding 2.3 percent to C$42.55, and Talisman Energy TLM.TO falling 0.8 percent to C$22.18. Some oil companies bucked the trend, with Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS.TO up 1.3 percent at C$31.53.
“Maybe people feel that something is going to work out in Libya ... but I think this Middle East thing is going to be with us for a long time, unfortunately,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, pointing to supply worries as one of the main reasons for oil’s rise.
“I think oil prices are going to be high for some period of time,” he added, noting that U.S. crude was still holding close to $109 a barrel.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended 11.84 points, or 0.09 percent, lower at 13,821.80. Heavyweight financials were off 0.1 percent.
The index’s materials group gained 0.6 percent on the back of the rise in gold-mining shares as bullion prices came within spitting distance of record highs.
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) jumped 2.2 percent to C$51.26 and Goldcorp (G.TO) climbed 2.4 percent to C$51.86.
Gold rose more than 1 percent and silver surged as a combination of U.S. dollar weakness, worries over Chinese inflation and renewed Greek sovereign debt fears lifted bullion to $5 below its record high of $1,476.21. [GOL/] [ID:nN14164161]
“The obvious feature is the golds,” Kinsey said. “It’s nice to see the gold stocks are all up because they’ve been real laggards.”
Base-metal miners on the other hand slipped 1.3 percent as copper ended lower for a fourth consecutive day as rising inflation pressures in China continued to muddy demand prospects. [MET/L]
Teck Resources TCKb.TO dropped 1.5 percent to C$50.14.
Also weighing on market sentiment, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed spending cuts and higher taxes on the rich on Wednesday to slash the U.S. budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. [ID:nN12216395]
“Obama’s speech highlights how problematic their debt problem has become and that’s coming to the fore in the market, and that’s why the (U.S.) dollar is down and the precious metals are up,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
As well, confidence was hurt by a Statistics Canada report that said that manufacturing sales in February had their biggest drop since August 2009 as auto sales pulled back after a January surge and a strong Canadian dollar continued to hurt exporters. [ID:nN14146333]
($1=$0.96 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)