By John Tilak
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Friday as data showing economic growth in North America helped drive gains in the energy sector, while gold-mining shares were dragged down by a weaker gold price.
The TSX, nevertheless, recorded its strongest monthly gain since October, rising 3.8 percent in February.
The Toronto market has outperformed the S&P 500 <.SPX> so far this year, rising about 4.3 percent, following a selloff in January triggered by concerns about emerging market growth.
Government data released on Friday showed that Canadian economic growth beat market expectations in the fourth quarter of 2013. In the United States, data indicated the world's biggest economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter.
"I think the market is going higher here," said Marcus Xu, portfolio manager at MY Capital Management Corp in Vancouver. "The bull market is still intact, the trend is still there."
"This year is going to be very volatile," added Xu, who expects the benchmark Canadian index to climb about 8 percent in 2014.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed down 5.15 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,209.59. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
Gold-mining shares dropped 1.1 percent, with Barrick Gold Corp declining 2 percent to C$22.56. The price of spot gold fell 0.5 percent on Friday.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, were little changed. Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.6 percent to C$71.95, but Toronto Dominion Bank gained 0.8 percent to C$50.16.
Shares of energy producers rose 0.8 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advanced 0.4 percent to C$40.52, and Encana Corp added 0.6 percent to C$21.00.
In corporate news, toymaker Mattel Inc said it agreed to buy Mega Brands Inc for about $460 million, including debt. Shares of Mega Brands jumped 35.6 percent to C$17.72.
(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Leslie Adler)
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