CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as ECB holds rates, U.S. jobs data eyed
* TSX up 4.73 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,150.41 * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance * RBC rises and is biggest positive influence on index By John Tilak TORONTO, July 4 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Thursday after the European Central Bank held interest rates steady, but dealings were thin due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday and as the market awaited a key U.S. jobs report on Friday. The European Central Bank said it plans to keep interest rates at record lows for an extended period and could yet cut them further. That took some attention away from the latest flare-up of the euro zone debt crisis in Portugal, where talks between the prime minister and his coalition partner were said to be progressing to defuse a political crisis that has jolted Lisbon's hope of a smooth exit from its international bailout. About 47 million shares changed hands on the Toronto market at late morning, compared with an average daily volume of about 334 million shares in June, according to market operator TMX Group. "People are very reluctant to take positions in the absence of the U.S. market being open," said Gavin Graham, chief strategy officer at Integris Pension Management Corp. Investors were focused on Friday's U.S. nonfarm payroll data, which is expected to show employers kept up a steady pace of hiring in June, with the jobless rate probably dipping. While a robust jobs report would indicate a pickup in the U.S. economy, it also reinforces the likelihood that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pull back on its stimulus program sooner rather than later, Graham said. "It's a double-edged sword," he added. "Investors want it to be strong, yet not too strong. They want the Goldilocks economy." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 4.73 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,150.41. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, edged slightly higher. Bank of Nova Scotia gave back 0.4 percent to C$55.35. But Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest lender, added 0.4 percent C$60.76 and had the biggest positive influence on the market. The materials group, which includes mining stocks, advanced 0.3 percent. In the group Teck Resources Ltd added 0.9 percent to C$22.15, and Potash Corp rose 0.9 percent to C$40.48.
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