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TORONTO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was slightly higher on Thursday morning, after stumbling at the open, as a rally in resource issues offset a decline in financials.
Almost all of the market's gold producers climbed after the price of gold jumped on news that Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated.
Gold, typically seen as a safe haven for investors during times of turmoil, spiked to a one-month high of $830.05 an ounce before easing to $826.70.
Kinross Gold (K.TO) was up 20 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, at C$17.80 and Novagold Resources (NG.TO) rose 24 Canadian cents, or 3 percent, to C$8.35. The gold subsector, part of the materials group, climbed 1.7 percent.
A gain by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) also supported the materials sector's advance, adding C$9.24, or 6.8 percent, to C$146.57. The group was up 2.3 percent.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 24.96 points, or 0.18 percent, at 13,719.80 shortly after the opening bell with four of the TSX's 10 main sectors in positive territory.
"I think, more than anything, it just has do with it being a flatter market -- much, much lower volumes than we're used to (with) no real catalyst," said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In the first day back since the Christmas break, light volume was expected to keep the TSX composite from making any large moves.
Financial issues dropped 0.9 percent -- following a slide by financials south of the border -- after a Goldman Sachs analyst said Citigroup Inc (C.N), Merrill Lynch & Co MER.N and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) could face bigger debt writeoffs in the fourth quarter than previously expected.
The analyst also said Citigroup might have to cut its dividend by 40 percent.
The consumer discretionary group was off 0.8 percent.
The main TSX index has advanced since the middle of last week, adding 2.5 percent in the past four sessions. With three trading days remaining for 2007, the index is up about 6 percent on the year.
$1=$0.98 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Rob Wilson