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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index managed to eke out a small gain on Thursday, as energy issues strengthened on higher oil prices, managing to offset weaker gold miners, which retreated along with the price of gold.
The heavily weighted energy sector broke a two-session streak in the red to end 3.3 percent higher as oil prices soared more than 14 percent to above $39 a barrel on an unexpected fall in crude inventories.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO), the top influential advancer, rose 7.9 percent to $23.95 as the stock was upgraded by Barclays Capital. [ID:nBNG112489], Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) climbed 2.5 percent to $40.36.
EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) rose 1.4 percent to $50.09 and Petro-Canada PCA.TO climbed 3 percent to $26.89.
The hefty financial services sector started the day in positive territory but fell back as concerns about the recession and the global banking sector weighed. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) dropped 3.9 percent to $14.50, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) fell 2.3 percent to $26.00. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) bucked the trend, rising 3.5 percent at $27.93.
"People are still not convinced the financials are out of the woods," said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd in Calgary.
"The market is still in a show-me mood."
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 9.40 points, or 0.11 percent, at 8,185.35, with half of the index's 10 main groups higher. The rise broke a three-session losing streak.
Gold issues were mostly lower, helping to push down the resource-laden materials group by 2.9 percent, as the price of the precious metal eased and gold companies reported results right around expectations.
Goldcorp (G.TO) retreated 4.2 percent to C$39.14 and Kinross Gold (K.TO) fell 6.4 percent to C$22.87. Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) dropped 2.9 percent to C$65.33, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) sank 5.2 percent to C$45.90.
Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson