February 15, 2008 / 10:06 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 4-Toronto stocks eke out gain with help of miners

(Adds details, analyst comments)

By Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index closed modestly higher on Friday as rising gold miners and other materials stocks offset softness in banks and disappointing results from Telus Corp (T.TO).

The market dropped more than 100 points midway through the session, mirroring a drop in major U.S. markets, which were rattled by concerns over consumer spending.

But strong materials stocks helped the index cap off a relatively flat week with a small victory.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 18.73 points, or 0.14 percent, to 13,226.76 on Friday. On the week it advanced 1.8 percent.

“We’re getting a lot of continued strength in the commodities sectors ... things like copper and aluminum, as well as agricultural commodities, have been going absolutely crazy here,” said Levente Mady, a broker at MF Global Canada in Vancouver.

Materials stocks jumped 1 percent, with gold producers up 1.2 percent and base metal miners 0.9 percent higher, despite softer metal prices.

Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 96 Canadian cents, or 2.6 percent, to C$37.19, while fertilizer producer Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO climbed 84 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, to C$149.35.

Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) rose 73 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$63.20 on news the company’s gold reserves were up 33 percent at the end of 2007.

On the downside, Telus helped to shave about 1 percent off the TSX telecoms sector after results from its key wireless unit disappointed investors.

Shares of Telus, Canada’s No. 2 phone company, were off 43 Canadian cents, or 1 percent, at C$41.55.

Financial stocks, which have proved particularly sensitive to U.S. economic data in recent months, slid 0.2 percent after an index of U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a 16-year low.

National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), the country’s sixth-biggest bank, slipped 93 Canadian cents, or 1.8 percent, to C$51.40.

“Bad news continues to come out and it’s a struggle to keep this market floating at an even keel,” said Mady. “In the bigger picture, I think we’re in a negative leg here.”

The index has risen in six of 11 sessions so far in February, inching up 0.5 percent. It is off 4.4 percent so far this year.

Market volume was 319 million shares worth C$5.8 billion. Decliners narrowly outpaced advancers 779 to 775. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 1 point higher, or 0.13 percent, at 772.75.

On Wall Street, stocks dipped after the consumer spending data was taken to suggest a U.S. recession was less avoidable.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 28.77 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 12,348.21. The Nasdaq composite index .IXIC declined 10.74 points, or 0.46 percent, to close at 2,321.80.

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Rob Wilson

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