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Toronto stock market pulls back from record-close on lower gold prices

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market ended Friday barely changed and closed just below the all-time record high set a day earlier.

The S&P/TSX composite index dipped 3.25 points to close at 15,108.97, with gold stocks falling by 1.49 per cent.

Gold prices have been steadily rising for the past month, as traders chose the safety of precious metal over the potential volatility of stocks due to the building tensions in Iraq and Ukraine.

August gold future prices rose again Friday but more slowly, rising $2.50 to US$1,316.60 an ounce after rising more than $40 in the previous session.

The uncertainty overseas also pushed the August crude oil contract up 78 cents to US$106.83 a barrel to a nearly nine-month high. The energy sector was one of the leading advancers on the TSX, up 0.57 per cent, as shares in TransGlobe saw an uptick of nearly seven per cent or 52 cents to close at $8.20.

The Canadian dollar jumped sharply, up 0.61 of a cent to 93.01 cents US, after Statistics Canada's May inflation rate turned out to be higher than expected — largely due to higher fuel prices.

Iraq, one of the world's largest oil producers, is desperately trying to hold off extremists from taking over the country's largest oil refinery. On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he will send 300 U.S. military advisers to help with the conflict in Iraq, adding that it was possible that there will be "targeted and precise military action" in the future.

"It looks like it's not going to end soon," Wes Mills, chief investment officer of Scotia Private Client Group, said Friday

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials rose 25.62 points to 16,947.08. The Nasdaq gained 8.71 points to 4,368.04 while the S&P 500 added 3.39 points to 1,962.87, amid strong U.S. jobs data.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that unemployment fell in 20 states last month and nearly three-quarters of the states added jobs, while the country as a whole posted a fourth straight month of solid hiring. Employers added 217,000 jobs nationally in May, and the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 6.3 per cent, matching a five-year low.

In Canada, the pace of inflation rose to 2.3 per cent in May, up from two per cent in April, according to Statistics Canada. Underlying core inflation was 1.7 per cent.

"The general thinking has been that rising inflation has been energy- and food-related, and temporary," said Mills. "That's largely true, but there is some evidence that wages are starting to sneak up a little bit. There is starting to be some discussion that central banks are just treating this as noise and it may not be."

Statistics Canada also reported that retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month in April, increasing 1.1 per cent to $41.6 billion as all but one of the subsectors posted gains. Economists had expected a gain of 0.6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

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