August 24, 2012 / 8:38 PM / 7 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends week flat on mixed messages

* TSX closes up 19.72 points, or 0.16 percent, at 12,082.23
    * Direction muted to end week, Fed eyed
    * Banks lead broad but modest rise; gold miners weigh
    * Global uncertainty limits enthusiasm

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks closer slightly
higher on Friday as banks gained ground ahead of earnings due
next week, but global uncertainty lingered and gold miners
retreated from a recent rally.
    Direction was muted as investors held back, leaving the
benchmark Canadian index at roughly the same level it started
the week.
    "The week is ending on a quiet note," said Pat McHugh,
Canadian equity strategist at Manulife Asset Management. "It
hasn't been a great day for good news."
    The continuing saga of the European debt crisis hurt
sentiment, while conflicting views from officials at the U.S.
Federal Reserve muddied the outlook for monetary easing in
Canada's main trading partner.
    "The market is reflecting on the fact that there are still
some problems in the world," said Michael Sprung, president at
Sprung Investment Management.
    Looking ahead, all eyes turn to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
and other central bank leaders when they meet in Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, next week for an annual get-together that often hints
at what monetary policy is to come.
    "Everyone will be looking forward to that to find out
indication on timing and any indications of what sort of
vehicles or options or strategies they will be implementing,"
Manulife's McHugh said.
    In the meantime, the main Canadian index gained as
heavyweight banks moved higher and telecom companies also rose.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 19.72 points, or 0.16 percent, at 12,082.23.
It ended last week at 12,089.89.
    Canadian banks are expected to post sluggish third-quarter
profit growth next week on the back of slowing domestic loan
growth and weakening capital markets, although two or three are
likely to raise their dividends. 
    Royal Bank of Canada added 0.8 percent to C$53.73.
It is the target of a complaint from insurance brokers who say
the country's biggest bank is violating rules about tying
banking and insurance products together. 
    Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce gained 0.7
percent to C$76.15, while BCE Inc, Canada's largest
telecom company, rose 0.5 percent to C$44.62 and its rival Telus
Corp added 0.7 percent to $64. A string of energy companies also
figured among the brightest lights. 
    Gold miners were among the biggest drags, as investors took
some profits after a recent rise.
    The index has this week been pushed and pulled by shifting
signals from Europe and the United States. 
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said Germany and
France wanted Greece to remain in the euro zone but that it must
meet its reform targets. 
    Meanwhile, two officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve made
conflicting comments about possible monetary easing, leaving
investors unsure if the central bank will move. 
    In a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday, Fed chief
Bernanke told a congressional oversight panel the central bank
has room to deliver additional monetary stimulus to boost the
U.S. economy. 
    "What investors are getting is conflicting signals out of
all of this noise," Sprung said.
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