* Golds lifted by bullion price, boost materials sector
* Goldcorp, Kinross announce higher output plans
* Energy, financials help keep TSX in positive territory (Updates to closing prices, details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher in a late-session burst on Thursday as the materials group was boosted by strength in gold issues.
Financials and energy stocks were also modestly higher, helping to keep the overall index in positive territory. Earlier, they were among the decliners that contributed to the benchmark’s sharp drop after the open.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished 1.1 percent higher, up 100.26 points at 9,221.58. Five of its 10 main groups were higher. Industrials and healthcare added healthy gains, while tech and consumer issues dragged.
The materials group rose 2.7 percent with gold miners adding upward momentum as gold prices climbed on safe-haven buying.
The gold price rose almost 2 percent in a rally sparked by a weaker greenback as the U.S. deficit is expected to balloon on proposed economic stimulus packages aimed at lifting the economy from recession.
Gold issues were also lifted by news from two miners announcing healthy production increases.
Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 1.8 percent to C$33.59 after it forecast this year’s production would match 2008 levels and announced plans for a 50 percent jump in output over the next five years. [ID:nN08526827]
Kinross Gold (K.TO) said late Wednesday it plans to spend $460 million this year boosting production by 32 percent, to as much as 2.5 million ounces. Kinross gained 6.4 percent to C$21.57.
“Gold is a very good refuge and safe haven,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
“It appears that in the sea of red ink, the printing of money, will eventually have inflationary implications and the U.S. dollar has come under pressure. The U.S. dollar is expected to come under more pressure and that is always good for gold,” Ing said.
Consumer stocks slumped, partly on U.S. discounter Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) disappointing December sales and earnings warning, while Canadian drug store chain Jean Coutu Group PJCa.TO reported a quarterly loss. [ID:nN08257406]
“I think the Wal-Mart numbers just reinforce the idea that consumers are cutting back more and more towards just necessities,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel.
$1=$1.18 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson