By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
finished higher Friday as strong gold prices helped push up
its materials sector and overcome weakness spurred by weak
Canadian and U.S. jobs reports.
Gold prices rose to their highest level in three weeks as
weak U.S. economic data knocked the greenback lower
Barrick Gold Corp rose 2.8 percent to C$44.65, while
fellow gold miner Agnico-Eagle climbed 3 percent to
C$61.37. The materials sector as a whole was up 1.4 percent.
"You're again seeing a resurgence of some concern about the
strength in the North American economy and the extent of the
recovery," Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global
Securities in Vancouver, said of gold's rise.
"The trigger for that, of course, has been the jobs numbers
on both sides of the border, with numbers below expectations in
the U.S. and in Canada."
Canada's economy unexpectedly shed 9,300 jobs in July, the
first month this year it has failed to create employment,
suggesting the country's recovery from recession is starting to
slow. Analysts had expected a rise of 15,000 jobs.
U.S. stocks fell on Friday after data showed a
steeper-than-expected drop of 131,000 in July nonfarm payrolls.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 65,000 drop.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
finished the day up 25.20 points, or 0.21 percent, at
11,799.97, with half of its 10 sectors higher. For the week,
the TSX rose 0.7 percent.
On the downside, economy-sensitive financials fell,
including Bank of Montreal, which retreated 0.7
percent to C$61.57.
The weak U.S. jobs report also helped to push down the
price of oil toward $81 a barrel. Encana Corp was down
1.1 percent at C$32.02.
In earnings, Canada's Manitoba Telecom Services Inc
reported a drop in quarterly profit as aggressive
promotional pricing by a key cable competitor hurt margins. The
company cut its dividend and its 2010 outlook. Its shares were
a top net loser on the TSX, down 8.6 percent at C$24.98.
Auto parts maker Magna International was the top
net gainer. Magna, up 7.5 percent at C$81.37, reported much
higher than expected quarterly results. Magna also raised its
quarterly dividend to 30 cents a share from 18 cents, citing
rising expectations for vehicle production in its key markets.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index closed 1.86 points,
or 0.27 percent, higher at 689.08.
(Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)