TSX inches higher despite drop in energy shares

Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:42pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index inched higher on Wednesday, helped by evidence of improving corporate sentiment and by stimulus measures taken by another major central bank, but gains were limited by a drop in energy shares as crude oil prices fell.

After two days of declines, the index was held in positive territory by rises in bank and mining stocks, especially gold producers as bullion hovered near a 6-1/2 month high. <GOL/>

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed 13.45 points, or 0.11 percent, higher at 12,436.16.

"The financials, particularly the banks, had a pretty good day, reflecting broad-based sentiment associated with solid earnings," said TD Waterhouse's chief portfolio strategist, Bob Gorman, referring in particular to higher than expected earnings from widely held U.S. consumer staple stock General Mills and an increased dividend from Microsoft.

Investors also cheered the Bank of Japan's move to ease monetary policy, which helped boost the price of copper and keep gold buoyant.

But the Japanese move didn't aid energy shares.

Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote), Canada's largest integrated producer, fell 2.1 percent to C$32.83 after crude slipped for a third day to hit a six-week low on signs that Saudi Arabia would produce more to dampen prices and on data that showed U.S. stockpiles rose last week. <O/R>

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO: Quote), the country's largest independent oil explorer and producer, closed down 2.2 percent at C$32.02.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch