TSX ekes out record close with Barrick's help

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged up on Thursday to notch a fresh record high as Barrick Gold Corp jumped on the company’s better-than-expected profits, though a drop in shares of Sun Life helped keep overall gains in check.

Passersby watch the performance of stocks on a financial news television screen in the business district of Toronto, Canada, January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Despite firmer oil prices, the energy sector .SPTTEN gave up earlier gains to decline 0.2 percent as shares of Enbridge Inc ENB.TO fell 0.9 percent to C$55.43 ahead of the company's earnings after the bell.

Enbridge also won U.S. antitrust approval for a merger with Spectra Energy Corp SE.N.

Barrick ABX.TO was the biggest lift on the index, jumping 6.1 percent to C$26.81, the day after the miner announced stronger-than-anticipated profit and a debt reduction plan.

Goldcorp Inc G.TO also drove the market higher as lower costs at its gold mines in the Americas helped its quarterly profit beat expectations. Its stock was up 5.9 percent at C$23.11.

The surge in the shares of the two companies gave the materials sector .GSPTTMT a 0.4 percent lift and sent the gold subindex .SPTTGD up 1.8 percent.

“The earnings I’ve been seeing for the most part in Canada and the U.S. have been pretty good,” said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services in Toronto.

“We’re seeing companies very disciplined on their costs and being cautiously optimistic for 2017.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 19.22 points, or 0.12 percent, at 15,864.17. Of the index's 10 main groups, six were in positive territory.

With the slight gain, Bay Street recorded a record close, the fifth session in a row the index has ended at a fresh high.

But a drop in shares of Sun Life Financial Inc SLF.TOSLF.N restrained overall market gains after the insurer reported a drop in quarterly underlying profit. Sun Life was down 5.1 percent at C$49.94.

Bombardier BBDb.TO fell 3.1 percent to C$2.50 after it posted lower-than-expected revenue on weak demand in its rail and business aircraft divisions.

Bombardier has struggled in recent years as it brings its new CSeries jet program to the market. The Canadian government agreed last week to provide aid to the company.

Editing by Phil Berlowitz