TSX ends higher as Syria fears drive energy gains

Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:07pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index climbed on Wednesday after concerns about Western military action against Syria drove oil prices to a six-month high and lifted shares of energy producers, but gains were capped as those same worries weighed on other sectors.

As Western powers said their minds were made up and that President Bashar al-Assad must face retribution for using banned weapons against his people, U.S. officials sketched out plans for multi-national air strikes on Syria that could last for days.

Apprehension that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon begin easing off its monetary stimulus measures also played on the minds of investors.

With tensions in Syria growing, the price of oil hit a six-month high as investors feared any escalation of conflict would create supply problems. <GOL/> <O/R>

"We are pulling excuses out of the hat to figure out why markets should be jittery," said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.

He does not anticipate any supply troubles, noting that Syria is not a major producer of oil.

"If you're a long-term investor and have the ability to withstand the stomach-churning moves, it's an excellent time to buy good quality Canadian energy companies," Schwartz added.

Shares of energy companies jumped 1.5 percent.   Continued...

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