* TSX up 4.60 points at 11,925.60
* Gold miners keep index above water
* Weak U.S. data weighs on investor sentiment (Adds details, quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, June 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed on Thursday morning, supported by strength in gold miners and market optimism about a Spanish bond auction, but held back by weak U.S. economic data.
Helping to lead the index higher was Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, the world’s No. 1 producer, up 2.8 percent at C$45.60. Goldcorp G.TO was ahead 2.3 percent at C$46.17, while Agnico-Eagle AEM.TO climbed 2.8 percent to C$65.46.
The gold miners were aided by strength in bullion prices, up around $1,245 an ounce, partly because of broader euro zone debt concerns and downbeat U.S. data. [GOL/]
The Toronto index followed world stocks higher after Spanish bond issues drew strong demand, easing worries over the country’s public finances. [MKTS/GLOB]
“The market liked the turnaround overnight with the successful Spain bond auction. There were some jitters around that,” said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal.
However, by midmorning, the TSX along with world markets had turned lower. The index briefly stepped into negative territory before popping back up.
At 10:45 a.m. (1445 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 4.60 points at 11,925.60, with the key materials sector, up 1.2 percent, largely responsible for keeping the index above water.
On the downside was weak U.S. economic news, including data showing growth in factory activity was sharply lower in the Mid-Atlantic region in June. [.N]
As well, Campeau said an unexpected rise in new U.S. claims for jobless benefits undercut investor sentiment. [ID:nN17254724]
“The broader concern is the U.S employment market is not bouncing back,” he said.
Campeau noted the next key technical levels to look out for on the TSX index were 11,800 and 12,200. “If we manage to stay in that zone it’s a bullish sign,” he said.
In individual company news, miner Gammon Gold GAM.TO said on Thursday it fired 397 of its union workers and indefinitely suspended operations at its El Cubo mine in Mexico, following a dispute with the union over a profit-sharing agreement. Its shares sank 9.3 percent to C$7.04. [ID:nN17219620]
Cenovus Energy Inc CVE.TO, the oil sands company spun off by EnCana Corp ECA.TO late last year, said on Wednesday its northern Alberta properties contain more than enough oil to support plans for a fivefold rise in production over the next decade. Cenovous shares fell 1 percent to C$29.68. [ID:nN16168302]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson