* TSX ends down 8.79 points at 12,164.56
* RIM shares end up 0.2 pct after results (Updates to close)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index settled slightly lower on Friday, pulled down by weighty financial and gold shares, but solid results from Research In Motion RIM.TO helped the bellwether technology giant hang on to gains.
On the data front, sentiment was soured by underlying U.S. inflation pressures that were muted in August and by weaker consumer morale, which that hit a 13-month low this month, keeping fears of deflation alive and spurring bets on further monetary easing. [ID:nN17127427]
Economically sensitive financial issues slipped 0.2 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) fell 0.4 percent to C$60.37 but Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was up 0.1 percent at C$54.40.
Gavin Graham, global strategist at Excel Funds Management, said the overall decline was surprising given that Canadian banks are set to increase dividends following relaxed capital requirements.
“All of (the day’s data) goes to indicate that ‘Oh, maybe we are seeing a slowing economy in the States’, which is not going to be good news for bank profits,” he said.
He also pointed to news on Thursday -- appearing the next day on front pages of financial newspapers -- about record U.S. foreclosures contributing to bad news for the housing sector. [ID:nNLLFKE6GG]
The TSX gold mining sub-sector declined 0.3 percent, despite the price of the precious metal hitting a record high for the third time this week. [GOL/]
“The gold price is hitting record highs and the gold stocks will catch up at some stage,” said Graham.
“The market can be surprisingly schizophrenic or able to ignore what should be pretty straightforward. If the price of gold is going higher, gold companies will be making more money.”
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 8.79 points at 12,164.56, with four of its 10 main groups lower. But it was up 0.6 percent for the week.
Energy stocks eked out a 0.1 percent gain despite a fourth straight day of declines for oil prices. Base-metal miners advanced 0.4 percent as copper rallied on reassuring comments from China’s central bank on monetary policy. [O/R] [MET/L]
RIM closed only 0.2 percent higher at C$47.78, after a bigger rally earlier in the day. Analysts mostly cut share price targets for the BlackBerry maker, focusing on tough competition and a weak U.S. performance rather than RIM’s robust results. [ID:nN17164687]
Friday marked the quarterly expiration of September equity futures and option contracts, a convergence known as “quadruple witching,” which usually increases volume and swings in trades. However, strategists noted that trading was relatively subdued heading into the close.