TSX ends flat as weak commodities offset banks, deals

Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:43pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended slightly lower on Wednesday as commodity markets dropped broadly, but stronger financials and a series of deals in the consumer, health and mining sectors put a firm floor under losses.

Among the most influential laggards, Goldcorp Inc (G.TO: Quote) lost 2 percent to C$40.51, Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) fell 1.5 percent to C$42.86, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) slipped 1.4 percent to C$32.20.

The prices of oil, gold and other resources were down on mixed factors including a rise in inventories, lackluster demand and some disappointing earnings from several U.S. bellwether companies. .N

European debt concerns also flared up again a day ahead of a critical bond sale in Spain, seen as a test of Madrid's capacity to grapple with financial and budgetary pressures.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 8.05 points, or 0.07 percent at 12,128.89. Six of the 10 sectors, however, were firmer, including financials, up 0.3 percent.

All of Canada's five big banks were in positive territory, including Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote), up 0.6 percent to C$55.42, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote), up 0.5 percent to C$83.94.

"When you look at the price/earnings multiples on the Canadian banks and the current dividend yields and you compare them to a different sector, say the public utilities or the pipelines, they offer good relative value and comparable or higher yield," said Arthur Salzer, chief executive officer of Northland Wealth Management.

"And if you are an investor that thinks Europe will muddle their way through and that we're not going to have another 2008 credit meltdown, then the banks are attractive and we have been buying here on dips."   Continued...

A man walks past an electronic board displaying the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS)