CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as U.S. data offset by drop in golds

Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:56am EST

* 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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