* TSX up 14.49 points at 12,044.21
* Energy, financials lead way higher
* Technology, gold shares down (Adds details, quotes)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 30 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index went for a wobbly ride on Tuesday and ended slightly higher as gains in its heavyweight energy and financial sectors were offset by weaker gold and technology shares.
The energy sector, up 1.1 percent, was the biggest gainer as U.S. crude prices settled above $82 a barrel after bright U.S. economic data spurred optimism about recovery in the world’s largest energy consumer. [O/R]
“That might be the one bright spot. Everything is semi-shut down now and I think that it’s just kind of a ho-hum market,” said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, referring to the Passover holiday this week and the upcoming Easter long weekend.
U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in March, while home prices rose in January for the eighth straight month according to a closely watched housing index, bolstering hopes for a sustainable economic recovery. [ID:nN30150986]
The index’s heavyweight financial sector added 0.2 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), the country’s biggest bank, ahead 0.5 percent at C$59.75, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rising 0.6 percent to C$76.05.
“(The banks have) all had very good runs, most of them are up 20 percent since the lows,” Kinsey said.
The head of Royal Bank’s wealth management unit said on Tuesday it is looking to build up its asset management business through acquisitions outside Canada, while the chief executive of TD, Canada’s No. 2 lender, said it was the only big bank in the United States to expand its lending book in 2009. [ID:nN30160148]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed 14.49 points, or 0.12 percent, higher at 12,044.21. It was a second-straight session of gains.
In morning trade, the TSX dipped into negative territory after opening a touch higher.
On the downside, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO tumbled 1.3 percent to C$76.26 following a report that smartphone rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was developing a new iPhone for Verizon Communications (VZ.N). [ID:nN30140851]
“Apple’s market share of the smartphone market is only 3 percent so they have a lot of room to grow,” said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services, adding that should make RIM shareholders nervous.
The tech sector was down 0.2 percent
Higher base metal prices boosted miners such as Teck Resources TCKb.TO, which jumped 2.3 percent at C$44.17, but gold-mining stocks were largely down as bullion prices slipped on a stronger U.S. dollar.
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) lost 2.1 percent to C$37.52.
“Gold has flatlined at $1,100 and there’s really no reason in our opinion that it’s going to go higher unless you have more continued U.S. dollar weakness because people who bought gold they bought it for a hedge against serious calamity in financial markets and that’s been abated now,” Schwartz said.
Gammon Gold GAM.TO sank 8.8 percent to C$7.88, after the company reported lower fourth-quarter net income as it booked foreign exchange losses and a tax-related charge. [ID:nN30135893]
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) plunged more than 7 percent to C$86.00 after the copper and gold miner’s legal woes with regard to its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to mount.
$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway