* TSX rises 24.92 points to 11,945.97
* Gold miners take lead, half of TSX’s sectors rise
* Weak U.S. data weighs on investor sentiment (Adds official close, quotes)
By Cameron French
TORONTO, June 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index rose for a sixth-straight day on Thursday, ending a choppy session higher as strong gold stocks offset weaker financial issues, which were pressured by weak U.S. economic data.
The economic figures — factory data in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic was weaker than expected while U.S. jobless claims rose — helped pull bank and insurance stocks down by 0.45 percent and also pressured oil stocks.
But the resulting flight to safety lit a fire under the price of gold, and helped gold-mining issues rally and drive the index’s materials sector up 1.59 percent.
“They’re strong,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities, who noted the index’s gains were due to a late rally. “It’s been a see-saw day... it just seems the market’s been up 10, down 10, up 10, up 10 down 10 in the last few minutes.”
Leading the materials group higher was Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO), which surged 5.4 percent to C$18.67, while Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), the world’s No. 1 producer, gained 4.0 percent to C$46.10, and gold miner Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) climbed 2.8 percent to C$65.44.
Gold futures rallied to a record high close of $1,248.70 on the back of the U.S. data and euro zone debt concerns.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 24.92 points, or 0.21 percent, at 11,945.97. It rose as high as 11,981.36 during the session, its highest level in a month.
Half of the TSX index’s 10 subgroups ended higher.
Latimer said market volumes could decline over the next week as trading floors in Toronto thin out ahead of the G20 summit in just over a week.
Security measures at the event promise to tie up traffic in Toronto’s downtown financial district, prompting some banks to tell employees to work from home.
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway