TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index ended with a moderate gain on Friday as resource issues were propped up by gold and oil prices, while the rest of the market followed the lead of sliding U.S. stocks.
Oil prices hit a record high near $143 a barrel, spurring fears of inflation and economic malaise, which in turn helped push gold prices near $930 an ounce.
“We had oil, gold, and even potash up, and that’s pretty much the story. They made up for the declines in the financials,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 63.07 points, or 0.44 percent, to finish at 14,355.21.
But eight of the 10 TSX subgroups weakened, with strength focused in materials, up 2.87 percent, and energy issues, which rose 0.88 percent.
Fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO, one of the largest stocks on the index, rose C$7.77, or 3.5 percent, to end at C$230.26.
The financials group fell 0.61 percent, hurt by nagging concerns over further fallout from the credit crunch.
A report from Lehman Brothers said that Merrill Lynch & Co MER.N will likely see $5.4 billion worth of writedowns in the second quarter, adding to concerns voiced earlier in the week, and rattling Toronto’s financial sector.
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) eased 65 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, to C$47.25.
For the week, the TSX composite fell 1.5 percent, but it is still just two weeks removed from its all-time high of 15,154.77.
U.S. stocks, in contrast, have been falling hard for the past six weeks, and a 0.93 percent drop in the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI on Friday put it on the cusp of a bear market, officially defined as a 20 percent drop from its past high.
Analysts said the reason for the contrasting performances can be tied directly to the TSX’s approximately 50 percent weighting in resource issues, which have benefited from the same elements — inflationary commodity prices and economic worries — that have hammered financial, industrial, and consumer stocks.
“You have a different thermometer measuring Toronto as opposed to New York,” said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.
“If it wasn’t for the oils and golds, where would we be right now? We’d probably be down like the Dow.”
In New York, the Dow fell 106.91 points, or 0.93 percent, to finish at 11,346.51, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC slipped 5.74 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,315.63.
In Toronto, the blue-chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 climbed 4.10 points, or 0.48 percent, to 856.11.
All told, 387.7 million shares were traded on the TSX, with a total value of C$7.4 billion. Advancing issues narrowly outpaced decliners 793 to 779.
Heavily weighted BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion RIM.TO> fell C$3.14, or 2.5 percent, to C$122.00, two days after issuing a disappointing profit forecast.
Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO), Canada’s No. 2 cable and satellite-TV company, climbed 46 Canadian cents, or 2.4 percent, to C$19.79 after it posted a gain in third-quarter profit.
Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson