February 6, 2008 / 4:03 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks higher as BCE, golds lend a hand

(Updates with analyst)

By Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was higher but off early peaks on Wednesday as rosy earnings from BCE Inc (BCE.TO) and bullish gold prices took the focus off worries over a recession.

Gold producers, including global heavyweights Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) and Goldcorp (G.TO), led the upside as the price of spot gold rose more than $18 to above $904 an ounce.

BCE, Canada’s biggest telecoms company, which is poised to be taken private, was up 78 Canadian cents at C$35.33 after it reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and slightly higher revenue. For details, see: [nN06299216]

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 63.83 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,995.78, picking up some of the pieces from its 2.5 percent drop on Tuesday.

Earnings “have helped to put a floor under the market after the sharp fall yesterday, and pretty steep losses in Asia overnight,” said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics.

The Toronto index was up more than 135 points immediately after trading began.

But key financial and energy stocks, along with the utilities and health care sectors, skidded into the red after a positive start to the session.

The energy sector was 0.2 percent lower, with EnCana (ECA.TO) off 44 Canadian cents at C$66.47. In the financial sector, which was flat, Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) was down 60 Canadian cents at C$56.10.

On the upside, the gold-mining subgroup climbed 2.8 percent with Barrick up C$1.25 at C$49.45, and Goldcorp up C$1.33 at C$36.31.

Materials issues rose 1.9 percent and consumer staples added 1.1 percent.

Elsewhere, Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) added 20 Canadian cents to C$32.52 after it said quarterly profit jumped more than 50 percent. For details see: [nN06269462]

Among others reporting results on Wednesday, cigarette-maker Rothmans ROC.TO was up 9 Canadian cents at C$24.00, while pipeline operator Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) fell 31 Canadian cents to C$39.89.

In economic data, Canada shed fewer jobs in December than previously thought, helping to ease concern over an economic slowdown. For details, see: [nN06278736]

$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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