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tsxTORONTO: Canada's main stock market edged moderately higher on Friday as gains in energy and bank issues offset lower mining stocks, which were hurt by an early drop in the price of gold to a 4-1/2 month low.


"There's still some weakness in the golds here right now ... The price of gold itself is down again today," said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities. "It seems to be on a ... losing streak."


Gold and copper prices pared some losses, however, after data showed the pace of hiring by US employers eased slightly in December while the unemployment rate crept up, pointing to a lackluster pace of economic growth.


US central bankers have tied the scope for further gold-friendly monetary stimulus measures to the level of the unemployment rate.


Energy and financials, which make up more than 50 percent of the index, climbed 0.33 percent and 0.41 percent respectively. Manulife Financial Corp rose 1.22 percent to C$14.11, while Royal Bank of Canada gained 0.38 percent to C$60.93.


Potash Corp's 0.94 percent gain to C$40.88 led the index gainers and helped tempered the materials group's 0.45 percent retreat.


Barrick Gold Corp led the decliners, and was down 0.91 percent at C$33.77. Kinross Gold Corp gave back 2.25 percent to C$9.11.


The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up a modest 11.73 points, or 0.09 percent at 12,482.17. Five of the index's 10 main groups were higher.


"I still think there's a lot of people away. You're probably not going to get a good feel of the market until next week," said Latimer.


The US labor report was mostly in line with analysts' forecasts and reinforces expectations of 2 percent economic growth this year.


This is unlikely to quickly bring down the unemployment rate or make the US Federal Reserve rethink its easy-money policies anytime soon despite growing unease by some policymakers over a bond-buying program.


Canada's economy defied expectations to create 39,800 jobs in December, surpassing even the most bullish prediction in a Reuters poll. The data came amid sluggish growth and fears about the US "fiscal cliff" and increasing the likelihood of a central bank rate hike this year.


Other data on Friday gave stronger signs of growth, with the US service sector activity expanding the most in 10 months.


In corporate news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc said it was aiming to double or quadruple its revenue, but left its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings guidance unchanged. Shares fell 1.61 percent to C$59.40 and was the second most negative influence on the TSX.


Center>Copyright Reuters, 2013

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