* TSX ticks up 9 points, ends three-day retreat
* Energy sector up 3.3 pct as oil price climbs
* Gold miners slump as bullion retreats (Adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index managed to eke out a small gain on Thursday as energy issues strengthened on higher oil prices, managing to offset weaker gold miners, which retreated along with the price of gold.
The heavily weighted energy sector rose 3.3 percent, after two days of falls, as oil CLc1 prices soared more than 14 percent to above $39 a barrel on an unexpected fall in crude inventories. [ID:nSIN33588]
EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) rose 1.4 percent to C$50.09, and Petro-Canada PCA.TO climbed 3 percent to C$26.89.
The hefty financial services sector started the day in positive territory but fell back as concerns about the recession and the global banking sector weighed. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) dropped 3.9 percent to C$14.50, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) fell 2.3 percent to C$26.00. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) bucked the trend, rising 3.5 percent at C$27.93.
“People are still not convinced the financials are out of the woods,” said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd in Calgary.
“The market is still in a show-me mood.”
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 9.40 points, or 0.11 percent, at 8,185.35, with half of the index’s 10 main groups higher. The rise followed three sessions of losses.
The market got an early lift from bargain-hunting, said Bruce Latimer, trader at Dundee Securities, but he said that faded as the Toronto market watched U.S. stocks hover around November lows.
“There’s not a lot of conviction either way. There’s not a lot of buyers out there; there’s not a lot of sellers either at these particular levels,” he said.
“People would like to see more conviction out of the U.S. market.”
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed at a more than six-year low. After several near misses this week, the blue chip average dropped through its Nov. 20 bear market closing low in late trade. [ID:nN19521561]
Gold issues were mostly lower, helping to push down the resource-laden materials group down by 2.9 percent, as the price of the precious metal eased and gold companies reported results that were close to expectations. [ID:nN19513215]
Goldcorp (G.TO) retreated 4.2 percent to C$39.14, and Kinross Gold (K.TO) fell 6.4 percent to C$22.87. Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO) dropped 2.9 percent to C$65.33, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) sank 5.2 percent to C$45.90.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 1.08 points, or 0.22 percent, higher at 490.57.
$1=$1.26 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway