TSX slightly higher with gold miners

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index eked out a small gain on Friday as miners rose as the price of gold climbed while energy stocks slipped after an OPEC deal earlier in the week propelled oil to its biggest weekly gain in years.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index settled up 24.99 points, or 0.17 percent, at 15,052.52. For the week, it slipped 0.15 percent, after hitting a near 18-month high on Thursday.

The financials group was flat, torn between gains for banks at the end of a busy week of earnings and a pullback in insurers, which have jumped sharply since early November on rising bond yields.

National Bank of Canada added 1.4 percent to C$51.52 after the country’s sixth biggest lender posted better-than-expected profit and said it planned to strengthen its capital position next year.

“The trend is very positive for banks in general because we’ve got higher rates and the stability in the residential mortgage book is still pretty much there,” said John Stephenson, president of Stephenson & Company Capital Management.

He said insurers likely also had room to rise further as higher bond yields reduce the value of their liabilities.

The most influential gainers on the index included Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold producer, which rose 4 percent to C$20.81 as it cut its debt, and diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd, which added 3.4 percent to C$33.66.

Stephenson said he prefers the likes of Teck and First Quantum Minerals Ltd over gold miners given that they would likely benefit from the major infrastructure spending proposed by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Gold futures rose 0.8 percent to $1,175.70 an ounce while copper prices fell 0.5 percent to $5,760.15 a tonne. [GOL/][MET/L]

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.8 percent.

Bombardier Inc rose 2.2 percent to C$1.87. The planemaker said it has won orders for three aircraft from Tanzania.

The Canadian economy added 10,700 jobs in November, and the jobless rate fell to a five-month low of 6.8 percent, although part-time work accounted for the gains for a second month in a row, Statistics Canada said.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Leslie Adler