CANADA STOCKS-TSX little changed as gold drops; banks climb

Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:41am EDT
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* TSX index down 0.05 percent at 8,382.85

* Materials drop as bullion price retreats (Adds details, quotes)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was little changed on Tuesday morning as hopes that the global banking system is stabilizing boosted financials, even as a drop in the price of bullion hurt the materials sector.

At 11:06 a.m. (1506 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 3.86 points, or 0.05 percent, at 8,382.85, with four of its 10 main groups lower.

The main index started the day off on firmer footing, but see-sawed for much of the morning.

The hefty financials group, home to banks and insurance companies and heavily weighted in the index, rose 0.6 percent, extending five straight days of gains.

Energy issues also gained, rising 0.7 percent as oil rose above $48 a barrel ahead of U.S. inventory data expected to shows a build in crude stocks. [ID:nSP469633]. EnCana (ECA.TO: Quote) rose 0.8 percent at C$50.47.

But the materials group, down 2.3 percent, kept the pressure on the downside with miner Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) lower by 2.7 percent at C$36.11.   Continued...