TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished moderately higher in volatile trading on Wednesday, thanks to rebounding gold shares and a late afternoon turnaround by financials.
The index’s weighty materials sector gained 0.62 percent as gold prices rose on safe-haven buying due to renewed concerns about the fiscal health of Greece.
Gold-mining stocks recorded solid gains, reversing Tuesday’s losses, as Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest producer, rose 1.18 percent to C$39.49, while Goldcorp Inc jumped 1.93 percent to C$39.53.
Shares of Teck Resources, the country’s largest base-metals miner, finished unchanged at C$41.71 after the company reported its first-quarter profit more than tripled.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index finished up 21.03 points, or 0.17 percent, at 12,134.56. Five of its 10 main sectors were higher, four were lower, and one was unchanged.
Trading held to a narrow range but seesawed throughout the session, kept in check by the offsetting push and pull of forecast-beating corporate results and worries over the Greek debt crisis.
“That’s why when you have those two forces there, you get a narrow range,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
“It’s almost like a tug-of-war at a picnic where the rope stays exactly the same. It doesn’t mean nothing is happening, but the two forces are about equal.”
Strong earnings from natural gas producer EnCana Corp and U.S. blue chips Apple and Morgan Stanley tipped the balance to more upbeat sentiment, which took the TSX to a third straight higher close., the country’s biggest lender, gained 0.41 percent to C$61.56.
The index’s energy sector was slightly lower, down 0.24 percent, as oil prices slipped toward $83 a barrel after U.S. government data showed an unexpected increase in crude inventories and fuel stocks.
Shares of Suncor Energy, Canada’s biggest oil company, lost 0.53 percent to C$34.07. Canadian Natural Resources was off 0.63 percent at C$77.59.
Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds, said markets will remain volatile in the short term.
“There’s a lot of cash out there,” he said. “Earnings are a little better than expected but there is still a difference of opinion. A lot of people are waiting for the market to sell off because it has come a long way.”
The consumer staples group was up 0.24 percent as Metro Inc, Canada’s No. 3 grocery chain, gained 0.55 percent to C$42.02 after it reported a higher quarterly profit.
Reporting by Ka Yan Ng and Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway