* 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 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
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.