CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as RBC gains offset weak golds
* TSX up 3.27 points, 0.03 percent, at 12,735.66 * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance * RBC gains 0.5 percent after results * Gold miners follow bullion prices lower By John Tilak TORONTO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed in choppy trade on Thursday as a gain in shares of Royal Bank of Canada after forecast-topping quarterly results helped offset weakness in gold miners. RBC gained 0.5 percent to C$63.78 after it reported a stronger-than-expected 12 percent rise in quarterly profit on the back of stronger loan growth and capital markets income, prompting the bank to raise its dividend by 5 percent. "You're looking at one of the less risky sectors in the market. The sector continues to be pretty healthy," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod, adding that steady dividends make bank stocks an attractive investment. However, some analysts have been wary about the prospects for further gains given that the financial services sector is already up about 5 percent this year. Shares of Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 0.2 percent to C$84.14 even though the country's No. 2 lender reported a 21 percent rise in quarterly profit, driven by loan growth at its Canadian and U.S. retail banks. It raised its dividend by 5 percent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce stock dropped 1.1 percent to C$82.93 after CIBC reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly profit due largely to a charge for a legal settlement. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 3.27 points, or 0.03 percent, at 12,735.66. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Industrial shares climbed 0.5 percent, with Canadian National Railway Co gaining 1.7 percent to C$103.38. The index's materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped 0.3 percent and was the biggest single drag on the market. The group is down about 9 percent since the start of the year, making it the worst performing sector of 2013 so far. Once again, the biggest decliners were gold-mining stocks, which followed the price of bullion lower. "A lot of people are saying gold is fully priced. I might be inclined to agree with that," Ketchen said. Barrick Gold Corp fell 0.8 percent to C$31.37. In other company news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc said it is in active talks to make more acquisitions, while posting a quarterly loss. The drug maker's shares were little changed.
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