* TSX drops 30.58 points, or 0.24 pct, to 12,794.05
* Index touches 17-month high, but eases on gold stocks
* Iamgold falls 14.6 pct on production, metals prices
By Cameron French
TORONTO, Jan 23 Canada's main stock index ended
lower on Wednesday after briefly touching a 17-month high as a
weak bullion price and a disappointing production report from
miner Iamgold Corp pulled gold-mining stocks lower.
Iamgold dropped 14.6 percent to C$9.22 after the gold miner
projected higher operating costs and said 2012 output came in
below its forecast.
The decline in gold prices also weighed on shares of
Centerra Gold, down 8.2 percent at C$8.60, and Kinross
Gold, which dropped 3.3 percent to C$9.48.
The golds helped pull the TSX materials sector down 1.21
percent, one of five of the 10 index subgroups to decline during
the session, but the only one to change by more than 1 percent.
All told, S&P/TSX composite index fell 30.58
points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,794.05.
The index has been running steadily higher since mid
November and briefly touched a 17-month high of 12,828.93 on
Wednesday before retreating.
Stronger economic signals from Europe, expectations of
robust corporate profits and steady commodity prices are all
reason to expect the index can continue to rise, said Barry
Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin
"The elements are in place for stock markets to be
significantly higher," he said. "Whether or not people want to
pay up for those stocks is another story."
Also weighing on the market were financial shares, which
slid 0.19 percent, giving up some of their recent gains. They
were led lower by Royal Bank of Canada, which slipped
0.5 percent to C$61.44, and Toronto-Dominion Bank, which
eased 0.4 percent to C$83.15.
The tiny health care sector advanced 0.5 percent, while
telecoms gained 0.28 percent.
One of the strongest gainers was grocer Metro Inc,
which rose 3.3 percent to C$64.79 after it said late on Tuesday
it would sell nearly half of its stake in convenience store
operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. for C$479