April 30, 2010 / 9:36 PM / 9 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-Gold rush pushes the TSX to higher close

* TSX ends up 0.09 percent at 12,210.70; ends week lower

* Canada gold stocks soar, up 7 pct this week

* Greece, Goldman Sachs eyed for weekend developments (Updates to close)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, April 30 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended slightly higher on Friday as strong gold stocks helped it hold gains in the face of profit-taking in most other sectors.

Gold stocks have been key supports of the index this week, handily outperforming the rest of the market with a 7 percent rise. The price of gold hit a 2010 high above $1,180 an ounce on Friday in a flight to safety bid spurred by concern over whether a rescue plan for Greece will emerge and news that Goldman Sachs faces a criminal investigation. [GOL/]

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) jumped 2.95 percent to C$44.30, while Iamgold (IMG.TO) gained 4.12 percent to C$18.18. Kinross Gold (K.TO) added 2.37 percent to C$19.40. The index’s materials group, home to gold producers, was up 1.38 percent.

Executives at gold miners said the momentum will continue due to strong profit outlooks and signs that prices for the metal could be set to top last year’s record highs. [ID:nN30206235]

“There’s appetite once again for Canadian gold stocks. We’ve seen gold do quite well recently,” said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 10.38 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,210.70. Four sectors advanced, including the key materials group, and six declined.

The oil and gas group pushed up 0.61 percent as the price of oil rose to around $86 a barrel, gaining for a third month in a row. [O/R]

EnCana Corp (ECA.TO), the country’s biggest producer of natural gas, rose 2.03 percent to C$33.60. Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Canada’s biggest oil producer, advanced 1.94 percent to C$34.75.

Optimism about North American recovery was helped by data showing a 3.2 percent annual rate of expansion in the U.S. economy in the first quarter, as well as a sixth consecutive month of growth in Canada’s economy, a healthy 0.3 percent rise in February. [ID:nN29103242] [ID:nN30135620]

But a late-session turn in financials cut gains in the key index, with its financial group ending 0.68 percent lower. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), the country’s largest lender, was off 1.28 percent at C$61.59, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) slipped 1.14 percent to C$74.56.

The index dipped into negative territory briefly as the session wound down, after trading as high as 12,308.13 earlier in the day. Investors steadily took profits late in the session ahead of the weekend with a Greece rescue deal looming and the news of a criminal probe into Goldman Sachs weighing on sentiment. [ID:nLDE63T0IC] [ID:nN30239321]

On the week, key index ended 0.24 percent lower, after earlier touching its highest level since September 2008.

“The market has come a long way. It’s going up begrudgingly when it does go up. People are more inclined to go to the sidelines and rest and let the weekend happen with what news may or may not happen,” said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Wealth Management in Waterloo, Ontario.

$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway

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