UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks little changed, but golds rise

Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:46am EST
 
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(Updates numbers, adds details, quotes)

TORONTO Feb 15 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was little changed on Friday morning as moderate gains were hampered by persistent concerns over the state of the U.S. economy.

The index was led higher by mining companies, with the subindex of gold producers climbing 1.5 percent. Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd AEM.TO rose 95 Canadian cents, or 1.5 percent, to C$63.42 after the company said its gold reserves and resources were at record levels. For details, see: [nWNA1524]

Elsewhere, Goldcorp G.TO was up C$1.00, or 2.8 percent, at C$37.23, and Barrick Gold ABX.TO climbed 74 Canadian cents, or 1.6 percent, to C$48.24, while the price of bullion strengthened.

But investors remained cautious after Thursday's downward pressure following comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said the outlook for the economy had worsened in recent months but he expects growth to become somewhat stronger in the second half of the year.

"The Fed has really been trying to hold the market back from panic, but as time goes on, the admission that things are slow (means) you've got to start facing the facts here," said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel.

"I don't think that what he said would be of any surprise to market participants, so the fact that we're not seeing a big selloff today tells you that anything he had to say is already in the market."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was 3.03 points, or 0.02 percent, lower at 13,205.00 with seven of its 10 sectors in negative territory. Analysts said they expected activity to be light as the market will be closed for the province of Ontario's Family Day holiday on Monday.

Sprung noted that investors may be reluctant to take on substantial positions as much of Canada heads into a long weekend.   Continued...