CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as U.S. data offset by drop in golds
* TSX rises 3.13 points, or 0.02 percent, to 13,445.90 * Six of 10 main index sectors advance * Gold-mining shares fall almost 2 percent By John Tilak TORONTO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed in volatile trading on Wednesday as investors digested U.S. economic data and awaited minutes from a Federal Reserve meeting to scan for hints about the U.S. central bank's monetary stimulus plans. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech on Tuesday, assured markets the Fed will maintain ultra-easy U.S. monetary policy for as long as required. The recent policy meeting minutes are expected to be released in the afternoon. Data showed U.S. consumer spending topped market expectations in October, indicating a strong start to the fourth quarter. But a 1.3 percent fall in the price of bullion, which hit a one-month low, kept gains in check and helped push gold-mining stocks down almost 2 percent. Investors have been showing more caution in recent days, with rising concern about whether the stock market rally will be sustainable. "The environment is relatively benign for equities right now," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. "The fact that markets have lost their upward momentum is a cautionary sign." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 3.13 points, or 0.02 percent, at 13,445.90. After sluggish first half of the year, the benchmark Canadian index has rebounded. Cockfield said he is bullish about prospects for the TSX over the long haul, but noted the index could be volatile in the near term: "I'm not sure which way the market is going to go from here." Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Wednesday. Energy shares advanced 0.5 percent, benefiting from higher oil prices. Suncor Energy Inc rose 1.2 percent to C$37.76. But shares of financial companies gave back 0.2 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada losing 0.4 percent to C$71.50. The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, dropped 1.1 percent, hurt by the fall in gold producers. Goldcorp Inc slipped 1.7 percent to C$24.88, and Barrick Gold Corp shed 1.9 percent to C$18.30.
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