TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed little changed after a choppy session on Wednesday, but it ended 2014 in positive territory despite a precipitous slide in oil prices that hit the resource-heavy index hard in the second half of the year.
The index rose 7.4 percent for the year, a slowdown from the previous year's 9.6 percent gain and it closed more than 1,000 points below the record high it reached in September.
"The TSX was pretty much firing on all cylinders right until September," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "Then once the collapse in crude oil prices started, sentiment for the index really took a total turn."
On Wednesday, the index and its heavily weighted energy and materials sectors swung repeatedly from losses to gains and back again. Volume was relatively light, which can magnify volatility.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 7.6 points, or 0.05 percent, at 14,632.44.
The oil rout continued after data showed sluggish demand and an increasing supply glut at the U.S. storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, but oil and gas stocks slipped only 0.1 percent on Wednesday. [O/R]
Keith Richards, portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend Wealth Management, said he expects further declines in oil, as well as lower copper prices in 2015.
"We could see a bounce on oil, it could go from the fifties back to $60 or something in the short term, but generally speaking I think oil is heading down to the forties again," he said. "I can't be bullish on commodities."
Copper fell on Wednesday, and ended the year down 14 percent, its biggest annual decline in three years, on fears that a supply surplus would hit the market next year. [MET/L]
Spot gold dropped, but the materials sector was flat, closing down 0.1 percent. Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) slipped 0.6 percent to C$12.52. The heavyweight financial sector also closed down 0.1 percent. [GOL/]
The biggest drag on the index was fertilizer company Potash Corp (POT.TO), which fell 1.0 percent to C$41.07 as corn prices slid more than 2 percent. [GRA/]
Picardo said he expects the TSX to trade lower in 2015 because, along with materials and energy stocks, bank shares have struggled lately. Earlier this month Canada's major banks reported largely disappointing quarterly results.
"With three of the major groups facing headwinds, it's hard to see the TSX making much headway in 2015," Picardo said.
Editing by Peter Galloway