UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks edge higher on bank gains

Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:46pm EDT
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index finished little changed on Thursday, lifted slightly by gains in financials after the core inflation rate slowed in March, while investors took profits following a steep advance in the previous session.

The financial sector added 0.8 percent, after data showed Canada's inflation rate slowed to its lowest since July 2005, allowing the Bank of Canada room to further cut interest rates.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO rose 75 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, to C$68.56, while Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO pushed up 58 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$63.82.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 16.02 points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,115.50 with half its 10 main sectors higher.

But gains were hampered by losses in the materials sector, including Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, which fell C$1.62, or 0.8 percent, to C$196.88 after its recent spectacular run-up.

The fertilizer company vaulted more than 5 percent on Wednesday amid a surge in the price of potash exports to China, and helped the index as a whole soar nearly 250 points.

Overall, the materials sector declined 1 percent on Thursday, as its subindex of gold producers gave up 1.3 percent amid softer bullion prices. Inmet Mining IMN.TO was down C$2.11, or 2.1 percent, at C$96.50, and Goldcorp G.TO slid 63 Canadian cents, or 1.5 percent, to C$42.79.

On the upside, the energy sector rose 0.3 percent after oil hit a new peak over $115 a barrel, before settling down 7 cents at $114.86. Suncor Energy SU.TO was up C$1.92, or 1.7 percent, at C$116.30 and Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO gained 86 Canadian cents, or 1 percent, to C$85.01.

Shares of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals ANP.TO added 37 Canadian cents, or 13.3 percent, to C$3.16 after it said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of its drug-eluting catheter in the United States. The small health sector gained 2.5 percent.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)