* TSX up 31.20 points, or 0.26 percent, at 11,811.87
* Energy issues gain with crude futures
* Weak gold, base metal prices weigh
* Eight of 10 main groups end higher (Updates to close, adds details, quote)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended higher on Thursday as energy issues rallied on the back of higher oil prices, but mixed investor sentiment meant the index see-sawed through another volatile trading day .
The energy sector climbed 1.8 percent after oil futures rose more than 2 percent, supported by much lower than expected crude and gasoline inventory data as the beginning of the summer driving season spurred gasoline demand. [O/R]
Heavyweight gainers included Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), up 2.9 percent at C$37.76, EnCana Corp (ECA.TO), 3.1 percent higher at C$34.94, and Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO), which rose 2.3 percent to C$49.06.
“It’s a bit of a tug-of-war between the bulls and the bears right now,” said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager with MFC Global Investment Management. “It’s huge volatility and with a lot of volume.”
Softer gold and base metal prices brought the materials sector down 1.4 percent. [GOL/] [MET/L]
“You’ve seen a drop in gold prices so there’s some profit-taking in the gold sector on the back of that decline in gold,” said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
Another drag on the sector was fertilizer giant Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc POT.TO, which slid 1.3 percent to C$101.78.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended 31.20 points, or 0.26 percent, higher at 11,811.87, with eight of its 10 main groups lower.
Helping to lift sentiment, U.S. private sector employers added jobs in May and the services sector increased payrolls for the first time in more than two years, building evidence that the U.S. labor market was picking up steam. [ID:nN0360959]
But the headline number of 55,000 jobs was still weaker than forecast and investors braced for the U.S. non-farm payrolls report on Friday, which is expected to show the economy added 515,000 jobs in May, according to Reuters estimates, more than at any time since September 1983.
“That’s a pretty big hurdle to jump through,” said Orengo. “A lot of people are expecting for that number to come in line or better, but I think a lot of people are starting to scratch their head after what they saw today.”
Canadian employment figures will also be released on Friday morning. The median forecast calls for the economy to add a modest 12,500 net jobs in May after a record gain of 108,700 in April, with the jobless rate remaining at 8.1 percent. [ID:nN01257964]
$1=$1.04 Canadian Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson