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Toronto's main stock index ended slightly lower Thursday as strength in gold-mining issues was nearly enough to offset broad-based weakness and a drop in PotashCorp (POT-T) shares.
Eight of 10 main groups were lower, but a 1.3 percent rally in materials, home to gold-mining stocks, nearly offset the losses elsewhere, even a 3.8 percent decline by PotashCorp.
Overall, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished down just 3.16 points, or 0.03 percent, at 12,564.09.
The gold subgroup gained 2.6 percent, spurred by firm bullion prices and strong earnings at Barrick Gold (ABX-T) on Thursday, as well as Goldcorp and Agnico-Eagle the day before.
"A weak U.S. dollar brings strong gold, and combined with strong earnings, gold stocks save the day," Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada, in Montreal.
PotashCorp posted quarterly results and issued an outlook that far surpassed expectations, but its stock dropped on a report that Ottawa is leaning toward blocking BHP Billiton's $39 billion US hostile bid for the fertilizer giant.