* TSX up 6.70 points, or 0.05 percent, at 12,217.40
* Oil prices, Greece rescue package helps lift TSX
* Miners pressured by profit-taking, Australia tax (Updates to midday, adds quotes)
By Jennifer kwan
TORONTO, May 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed Monday afternoon as support from firm oil prices and cautious optimism over a Greek aid package was offset by weaker gold issues, which were pulled lower by a bout of profit-taking.
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), the world’s biggest producer, slumped 2.4 percent to C$43.25, while Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) lost 1.9 percent at C$43.09. Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) fell 1.9 percent to C$63.23.
Gold prices rose to a five-month high but the move was not enough to lift mining stocks as investors took profits after a recent rally, said Paul Harris, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management. [GOL/]
Harris added the safe-haven appeal of gold stocks was dimmed slightly as investors were cautiously comforted by a European financial rescue package for Greece. [TOP/NEWS]
“On paper they’ve reached a deal. There’s a higher probability they get their money and they won’t default on their debt,” he said.
Harris added the resource-laden TSX was also pressured by news the Australian government would introduce a 40 percent tax on mining profits to help raise workers’ retirement incomes, sparking warnings that huge new investments could be lost. [ID:nSGE642003]
“I think maybe that has an impact because people are worried that may happen more globally,” said Harris. The materials sector, home to miners and fertilizer companies, fell 2 percent.
At 12:52 p.m. (1652 GMT) the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 6.70 points, or 0.05 percent, at 12,217.40.
Offsetting the weakness was strength in financial issues, up 0.7 percent, benefiting in part from data indicating the U.S. economy was on firmer footing, as well as details of the Greece package. [.N]
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), the country’s biggest lender, was up 1.6 percent to C$62.57.
Energy shares climbed 0.3 percent as oil prices rose above $86 a barrel on expectations of improving demand in a recovering U.S. economy and on concerns about the impact of the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. [O/R]
Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO), Canada’s biggest oil company, gained 0.7 percent to C$34.98.
($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson)