December 31, 2010 / 4:09 PM / in 7 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat ahead of new year as commodities mixed

* TSX up 3.08 points at 13,437.49, led by miners

* Seven of 10 sectors weaker; energy, banks slide

* Index on track for best December in 5 years

* TSX up 14 percent for 2010 (Updates with details, quotes)

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was flat on Friday morning in thin New Year’s Eve trade as strength among miners offset weakness in energy and financials, keeping the market on track for its the best December in five years.

The index is up almost 4 percent for the month and about 14 percent for the year, touching its highest level since August 2008 on Thursday.

On the upside Friday, materials gained 0.4 percent as copper hit a record high and the price of bullion notched its strongest annual performance in three years. Spot silver was the second best performer among precious metals. [MET/L] [GOL/]

Silver Wheaton SLW.TO jumped 2.5 percent to C$38.79, while Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO firmed 0.7 percent to C$52.96 and Teck Resources TCKb.TO rallied 1.1 percent to C$61.65.

Among the heaviest decliners were powerhouse energy shares, off 0.4 percent, and financials, down 0.1 percent as oil prices declined slightly and investors booked profits ahead of the new year. [O/R]

Suncor Energy SU.TO slipped 0.6 percent to C$37.94 and Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO dipped 0.1 percent to C$52.16.

At 10:56 a.m. (1556 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 3.08 points at 13,437.49. Seven of the 10 main groups were weaker.

“Volume is very light and typically the last day of the year tends to have not much price change ... so we really shouldn’t read too much into whatever is happening today,” said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

Baffinland Iron Mines BIM.TO surged 5 percent to C$1.45 after ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, raised its takeover offer to C$1.40 a share, matching a rival bid from Nunavut Iron for the vast iron ore deposit in the Arctic. [ID:nLDE6BU0GO]

Looking to 2011, Warne said she was optimistic about the market.

“I think that we’ll continue to see good news from global economic growth, despite the fact that many developed countries are continuing to show subpar recoveries and that emerging markets are trying to slow down their rate of growth,” she added.

“Companies remain well positioned with a lot of cash and the opportunity, even with small revenue growth, to continue to deliver very solid earnings growth. Those to me look like pretty good indicators for another solid year.”

$1=$1 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson

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