* TSX slips 0.04 percent to 11,521.83
* Bernanke says rates to stay low for long time
* Disappointing corporate earnings drag (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index ended slightly lower on Wednesday as a weaker gold price dragged down producers and weaker than expected corporate results weighed.
Disappointing results from several companies, including TransAlta (TA.TO) and Finning International (FTT.TO), outweighed early benefits from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s commitment to keep U.S. interest rates low. [ID:nN23153536]
An unexpected drop in new U.S. home sales also underscored concerns about the shaky U.S. economic recovery, which helped to pull down the price of gold below $1,100 an ounce. Oil, however, was up on the day, above $80 a barrel, but the energy group stayed negative. [GOL/] [O/R]
The resource-laden Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 4.88 points, or 0.04 percent, at 11,521.83, its third straight session lower.
U.S. stocks, meanwhile, rose sharply as investors welcomed the promise of more cheap money.
“We’ve been unable to follow the trend south of the border. The U.S. markets have had a pretty strong day but not so much in Canada,” said Elvis Picardo.
“Most of the downdraft is coming from the materials group.”
TransAlta fell 1.9 percent to C$23.21 after Canada’s biggest publicly owned electricity producer said its profit fell 16 percent. [ID:nN24183720]
Finning fell 3.27 percent to C$17.46 after the world’s largest Caterpillar (CAT.N) equipment dealer returned to profit, but revenue sagged. [ID:nN23109078]
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson