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

Reuters

* 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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