TSX steady as Ukraine tensions ease, gold miners drop

Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:22pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as a peaceful conclusion of the referendum in Crimea drove gains in some sectors, but the perceived easing of tension in the region weighed on the bullion price and sent gold-mining shares lower.

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on officials from Russia and Ukraine after Crimea applied to join Russia following the referendum on seceding from Ukraine.

Investors were also encouraged by data that showed the largest gain in U.S. manufacturing output in six months in February and an expansion in factory activity in New York state in March.

Also providing support was a 4.9 percent jump in shares of Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) after South Africa's Transnet awarded the plane and train maker part of a contract to supply more than 1,000 trains as part of a $28 billion expansion plan. The contract was shared with General Electric (GE.N: Quote) and two Chinese firms. ID:nL6N0ME1OZ]

But a selloff in the gold-mining group robbed the Toronto stock market's benchmark index of any substantial gain. The index is up about 4.5 percent this year.

"Everybody would like to see the market higher, of course, but overall investors have a sense of comfort with where the market is," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod. "There still seems to be a fair amount of confidence in the stock market and the economy."

Ketchen said he expects the index to end the year at around the 15,000 mark.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 4.23 points, or 0.03 percent, at 14,231.89 on Monday. Eight of its 10 main sectors were higher.   Continued...

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