CANADA STOCKS-TSX slips as gold miners weigh

Reuters

* TSX down 10.71 points, or 0.08 pct, at 13,577.27 * Gold miners weigh, bullion heads for historically bad year By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slipped marginally in light trade on Monday, with gold-mining shares weighing heavily as bullion headed for its biggest annual loss in 32 years.

Some heavyweight banks also slipped, but the losses were offset by moderate gains among energy companies. While trading activity was muted, optimism showed in expectations for improved economic growth in 2014.

"I think it will be quiet through to the new year," said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.

"On balance, we believe 2014 is going to be a better year than 2013," he said. "That's based on some of the economic numbers...the U.S. reduced their taper, they seem to think their economy is going to find some traction." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index is on track for a roughly 9 percent gain for the year, a sharp underperformance compared to the broad S&P 500 index's 30 percent gain to all-time highs.

The annual gain for the S&P 500 and other U.S. indices was supported by the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive stimulus efforts, which the central bank only this month started to withdraw.

By contrast, Canada's reliance on commodity-linked stocks has hampered growth as the global economy has spluttered.

The Canadian index was down 10.71 points, or 0.08 percent, at 13,577.27 by mid-morning.

Among the biggest negative influencers, Suncor Energy Inc fell 0.5 percent to C$37.06, Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.2 percent to C$71.15, and Goldcorp Inc declined 1.1 percent to C$22.85.

The price of gold has fallen nearly 30 percent this year, weighing on the many mining companies listed in Toronto and dragging down the index as a whole.

An index of global gold miners, mostly Canadian companies, has fallen 48 percent this year.

Caldwell's Kinsey said that the depressed price of gold - now at $1,200 an ounce - should lead to mine closures which in turn would put a floor under the price and help the sector stabilize next year.

On the positive side, pipeline operators TransCanada Corp gained 0.4 percent to C$48.64 and Pembina Pipeline Corp added 0.8 percent to C$37.48.

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