* S&P/TSX composite gains 0.11 percent to 11,763.42
* Gold miners benefit from uptick in bullion price
* Assortment of blue chips fall
* Bank of Canada holds rates steady, tweaks outlook (Adds details, quotes)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index closed slightly higher on Tuesday as an uptick in bullion prices helped push up gold producers, but the move higher was offset by the drag of some falling blue chips.
The index’s gold producing sub-sector .SPTTGD was up 1.2 percent with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world’s biggest gold miner, adding 1.46 percent to C$40.91.
The index’s materials group managed to gain 0.66 percent, mostly on the gold support, but it was pressured by individual names such as fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO, which dropped after UBS cut its share-price target. [ID:nWNAB5381]
Potash Corp recovered some of its losses by day’s end, down 0.5 percent at C$118.58.
The health-care sector made significant gains, up 2.43 percent, largely on the back of a brokerage upgrade on Biovail BVF.TO. The country’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company rose 1.84 percent to C$16.06 after Deustche Bank raised its share-price target. [ID:nWNAB5614] [RCH/CA]
Heavyweight decliners were an assortment of blue-chip names. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO fell 1 percent to C$67.41, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) lost 0.43 percent to C$46.29. Pipeline company Enbridge (ENB.TO) fell 1 percent to C$46.68.
“There’s not really any major catalyst moving the market. Oil is up slightly, gold is up slightly and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of news out there,” said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“As far as Toronto goes, it’s pretty muted.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 12.88 points, or 0.11 percent, at 11,763.42. It moved in a subdued range of about 55 points on slightly below-average volume.
By comparison, major U.S. stock indexes advanced more than 1 percent on Tuesday as investors bet a potential Republican victory in Massachusetts’ Senate race could stall President Barack Obama’s reform agenda.
Financial shares almost fully recovered, ending down 0.01 percent, after dropping early in the day after Citigroup Inc (C.N) posted a massive loss after taking charges linked to repaying government bailout funds. The news raised concerns about the quality of financial sector earnings as reporting season ramps up. [ID:nN19205676]
“Citibank’s loss is a reminder that we still have some heavy slogging to go and the U.S. economy still has problems,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
Meanwhile, strong economic data and a Bank of Canada growth forecast suggested on Tuesday that Canada’s recovery from recession is on track, though soft private sector demand and a buoyant currency were seen as risks. [ID:nN19213865]
The Bank of Canada left its key interest rate at a record low. [ID:nN19514256] [CA/INT]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway