CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat as golds offset weakness on ECB comments
* TSX rises 0.03 points to 12,761.62 * Five of 10 main sectors advance * Manulife gains 1 percent on results By John Tilak TORONTO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Thursday as a rise in gold stocks in tandem with higher prices for the precious metal helped offset a wave of negative sentiment after the European Central Bank warned about weak euro zone economies. Earnings reports from several Canadian companies also drew attention. Shares of Manulife Financial Corp gained after the insurer reported a quarterly profit, while miner Teck Resources Ltd slipped after its earnings slumped. Investors initially had been buoyed by the European Central Bank's decision to hold interest rates steady and by a fall in U.S. jobless claims that pointed to a modest improvement in the country's labor market. But sentiment shifted, denting stocks, after ECB President Mario Draghi said policymakers will monitor the impact of a rising currency. Even so, less-than-attractive bond returns were still tugging investors toward global stock markets, said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod. "There is some modest economic optimism," he said. "Overall, people are gravitating towards the stock markets." At midmorning, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 0.03 points at 12,761.62. Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Manulife reported a fourth-quarter profit on tax and investment gains, as well as stronger sales of insurance and wealth products in its Asian division. The stock rose 1 percent to C$14.55. BCE Inc, Canada's biggest telecom provider, reported higher quarterly profit and raised its dividend, helped by its wireless and media divisions and investment gains. The stock gained 0.2 percent to C$44.59. Shares of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp rose 1.7 percent to C$42.36 after the pharmacy chain reported a fourth-quarter sales increase and profit that slightly exceeded expectations. Gold stocks were some of the biggest gainers. Barrick Gold Corp added 0.9 percent to C$32.86, and Yamana Gold Inc was up 2.3 percent to C$16.82. Shares of Teck Resources slipped 4.2 percent to C$35.10 after the diversified miner reported a sharp drop in fourth-quarter earnings as higher copper sales failed to offset the impact of sagging coal prices.
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