*TSX up 0.97 of a point at 12,145.81
*Four of 10 main sectors higher (Adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed on Thursday morning as heavyweight banks retreated after their recent rally but gold miners rose on record-high gold prices.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was down 1.2 percent at C$53.83, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) fell 1.1 percent to C$75.37.
Banks rallied earlier this week on a global agreement on new bank capitalization regulations. Regulators, aiming to prevent a repeat of the international credit crisis, agreed last weekend on rules to raise bank capital requirements. The deal paved the way for Canada’s financial watchdog to end a moratorium on bank dividend increases and major acquisitions. [ID:nLDE68BOJE]
“We had nice pop in all the banking stocks on the feeling that dividend increases are imminent,” Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services, said. “Maybe some of that excitement is now in the market and people still have to focus on earnings for these banks. It’s still an uncertain economy.”
At 10:07 a.m. (1407 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 0.97 of a point at 12,145.81, with four of its 10 main sectors higher.
Energy shares, down 0.2 percent, also weighed on the market as oil prices fell toward $75 a barrel ahead of the expected reopening of a North American pipeline that will restore crude supplies to U.S. refiners. [O/R]
Offsetting the weakness was strength in gold miners as the price of bullion rushed to a record high above $1,275 an ounce. [GOL/]
“Many people are now viewing gold as an alternative to holding dollars,” Schwartz said. “We have a real worry that the U.S. deficit is out of control and that doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.”
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world’s No. 1 producer, rose 1.3 percent to C$46.81.
Also supporting the index was Potash Corp POT.TO, up 1.6 percent at C$152.89. The Globe and Mail said on Thursday that Potash is trying to stitch together a consortium led by China to back a management buyout to trump BHP Billiton’s (BHP.AX) $38.6 billion hostile takeover offer. [ID:nSGE68F0BA]
($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)