* TSX up 32.41 pts, or 0.3 pct, at 12,261.68
* Energy sector gains as oil rises above $100
* Gold miners drag on lower bullion prices
* Europe debt contagion fears weigh (Adds details)
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks rose in choppy trade on Wednesday as gains in energy shares on higher oil prices offset falling gold miners and broad market fears that Europe’s debt crisis is spreading.
U.S. oil rose to $101.52, its highest level since June, supported in part by some unexpectedly strong U.S. economic data and by Enbridge Inc’s (ENB.TO) plan to reverse the Seaway pipeline by next year to help ease an oil glut at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub. [ID:nL5E7MG28R] [ID:nN1E7AF0ES] [O/R]
“Oil at $100 tells us that the market’s not looking towards a recession,” said Irwin Michael, a portfolio manager at ABC Funds.
The index’s energy sector took the lead, rising 1.7 percent. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) led the group’s gains, jumping 4.3 percent to C$39.12.
TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) shares climbed 0.3 percent to C$40.90 after the energy infrastructure company said it could start building the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline even as it awaits U.S. approval for the project as a whole. [ID:nN1E7AF0TA]
Enbridge stock rose 1.1 percent to C$35.20 after purchasing ConocoPhillips stake in the 350,000 barrel per day Seaway pipeline for $1.15 billion, and saying it will reverse the line’s flow. [ID:nN1E7AF0BQ]
Gold-mining stocks fell 0.4 percent as bullion had its largest one-day drop this month. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was the biggest drag, falling 0.6 percent to C$53.11. Minefinders Corp’s MFL.TO shares plunged more than 10 percent to C$12.45 after downgrades.
Bucking gold miners’ downward trend, shares of Novagold (NG.TO) rose 27 percent to C$11.43 after the company said it is exploring a possible sale of its 50 percent stake in the big Galore Creek copper/gold project in northwestern British Columbia. [ID:nN1E7AF0JS]
Though widely viewed as a safe-haven, gold has recently traded in line with headlines from Europe and was down with fears the European debt crisis was broadening and could engulf the economies of Austria, the Netherlands and France. [MKTS/GLOB]
At midday, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 32.41 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,261.68, after touching a session low of 12,163.35 shortly after the open.
The index’s gains were limited by a a new wave of European fears as the European Central Bank’s buying of Italian and Spanish bonds failed to stem a broader euro zone bond selloff.
Investors feared Europe’s debt contagion had spread to France, as yield premiums on the country’s 10-year government bond over German bunds hit euro-era highs. [ID:nL5E7MG0ZG]
Nearly all of Canada’s top 10 main sectors were negative, with gold mining stocks leading the heavily weighted materials sector to a 0.3 percent drop.
The telecommunications sector, a traditional safe haven, was down nearly 1 percent, a day after Canada’s communications regulator allowed big Internet service providers to charge lease fees based on the amount of capacity small providers use. [ID:nN1E7AE1O5]
BCE Inc (BCE.TO) was among the sector’s biggest losers, falling 0.3 percent to C$39.55, after the telecoms regulator rejected its bid to be allowed to charge wholesalers for Internet services on a volume basis, also known as usage-based billing.
In other company news, Research In Motion’s RIM.TO shares were up more than 1 percent at $19.86 after Goldman Sachs raised the rating on the BlackBerry maker.
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway)