*TSX rises 25.20 points, or 0.21 percent, to 11,799.97
*Gold rises above $1,200 an ounce, boosts materials group
*Financials, energy sectors sag after jobs data (Adds company earnings)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher on Friday as strong gold prices helped push up its materials sector and overcome weakness spurred by weak Canadian and U.S. jobs reports.
Gold prices rose to their highest level in three weeks as weak U.S. economic data knocked the greenback lower. [FRX/] Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) rose 2.8 percent to C$44.65, while fellow gold miner Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) climbed 3 percent to C$61.37. The materials sector as a whole was up 1.4 percent.
“You’re again seeing a resurgence of some concern about the strength in the North American economy and the extent of the recovery,” Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver, said of gold’s rise.
“The trigger for that, of course, has been the jobs numbers on both sides of the border, with numbers below expectations in the U.S. and in Canada.”
Canada’s economy unexpectedly shed 9,300 jobs in July, the first month this year it has failed to create employment, suggesting the country’s recovery from recession is starting to slow. Analysts had expected a rise of 15,000 jobs. [ID:nN06197942]
U.S. stocks fell on Friday after data showed a steeper-than-expected drop of 131,000 in July nonfarm payrolls. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 65,000 drop. [.N] [ID:nN05598486]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 25.20 points, or 0.21 percent, at 11,799.97, with half of its 10 sectors higher. For the week, the TSX rose 0.7 percent.
On the downside, economy-sensitive financials fell, including Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), which retreated 0.7 percent to C$61.57.
The weak U.S. jobs report also helped to push down the price of oil toward $81 a barrel. Encana Corp (ECA.TO) was down 1.1 percent at C$32.02.
In earnings, Canada’s Manitoba Telecom Services Inc MBT.TO reported a drop in quarterly profit as aggressive promotional pricing by a key cable competitor hurt margins. The company cut its dividend and its 2010 outlook. Its shares were a top net loser on the TSX, down 8.6 percent at C$24.98. [ID:nSGE6750GC]
Auto parts maker Magna International MGa.TO was the top net gainer. Magna, up 7.5 percent at C$81.37, reported much higher than expected quarterly results. Magna also raised its quarterly dividend to 30 cents a share from 18 cents, citing rising expectations for vehicle production in its key markets. [ID:nSGE6750DP]
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 1.86 points, or 0.27 percent, higher at 689.08.
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway