* 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
* U.S. seen adding most jobs since 1983 in May report (Adds details, quotes)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended higher on Thursday as energy shares rallied on a rise in oil prices, but the index see-sawed through the day, hurt by weakness in materials shares and a high level of uncertainty ahead of Friday’s U.S. jobs data.
The index’s 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.
Also supporting energy names in the midst of the BP oil spill disaster was the belief that Canadian companies are safer bets.
“When you look at Canadian oil sands companies, you don’t run into the same risks,” said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager at MFC Global Investment Management. “If anything goes wrong, the spillover will be contained to the lands.”
The index’s materials sector fell 1.4 percent on weaker metals prices. [GOL/] [MET/L]
Barrick Gold ABX.TO fell 1.6 percent to C$44.09, while Goldcorp (G.TO) ended down 2.2 percent at C$44.89, and Teck Resources TCKb.TO dropped 2.6 percent to C$35.12.
“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.
On the data front, 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 private-sector number of 55,000 jobs was still weaker than forecast and investors focused on 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. That would be the biggest monthly jump since September 1983.
“It’s a bit of a tug-of-war between the bulls and the bears right now,” Orengo said.
“The bulls are saying the economic numbers are still pretty good, the economy is chugging along, first quarter earnings were good ...”
But the bears, he pointed out, say that economic indicators have peaked, most stimulus is already in the economy, and unemployment is still high. The bears’ stance, he said, is that “GDP growth is going to be very muted and we probably have already seen the best from an earnings growth perspective.”
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 Peter Galloway