CANADA STOCKS-TSX little changed after big swings

Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:19am EST
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* TSX little changed after rising 1 pct, falling 1 pct

* Hits lowest point in 5 years on downswing

* Materials sector biggest drag, down 4 pct on weaker gold (Adds details)

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was little changed on Tuesday morning after swinging sharply higher and then lower, with the main pressure to the downside coming from weaker gold prices, which pulled down the materials sector by 4.1 percent.

Six gold miners were among the biggest losers, including Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), down 6.9 percent at C$41.58, and Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), down 6.2 percent at C$36.09.

Counterbalancing weaker gold was bargain-hunting after Monday's 300-point drop in Toronto's TSX index to its lowest closing level in more than five years, and Monday's drop in U.S. stock markets to a 12-year low.

The TSX rose more than 1 percent at the start of the session on Tuesday, but turned negative shortly after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the U.S. recession may not end this year as he delivered the Fed's semiannual monetary policy report.

That helped push the index down more than 1 percent to its lowest level since October 2003.

Market players may look south of the border for further guidance on the economy with addresses expected from U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday.   Continued...