TSX ends lower as telecoms dip offsets energy gains

Thu Mar 7, 2013 5:16pm EST
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By John Tilak and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended slightly lower on Thursday as gains in energy shares on higher oil prices were offset by a drop in telecom stocks after the Canadian government moved to boost competition in the sector.

The materials group, which includes the miners, also weighed as gold prices fell after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England did not hint at more economic stimulus. <GOL/>

Canadian stocks fell even as U.S. stocks closed modestly higher, with the Dow ending at a record for a third straight day. .N

"We're in rougher shape because of our commodity sector, which is not booming at the moment," said Douglas Davis, chief executive officer at Davis-Rea.

The materials sector has shed more than 9 percent since the start of the year and is the worst-performing group on the index by far. It was down 0.8 percent, hurt by the drop in gold stocks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 5.44 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,826.52. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red. Earlier the index had hit its highest point since January 30.

Telecoms shares fell about 1 percent after the Canadian government said it would start the process of auctioning more prime wireless spectrum on November 19.

The weakness could be because of the possibility that the government blocks dominant wireless players, such as Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote), from buying airwaves from new entrants, like Shaw Communications Inc (SJRb.TO: Quote), that were allowed to bid for set-aside airwaves in a 2008 auction, said Maher Yaghi, an analyst at Desjardins Securities.   Continued...

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