TSX shrugs off insurer gloom; banks and energy lead

Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:08pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Big insurers weighed on Canada's main stock index on Thursday, but major banks and blue-chip energy companies pushed the market higher as crude oil prices rallied.

Shares in Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO: Quote) slipped after the insurers reported disappointing quarterly results. Manulife was off 2.3 percent at C$21.33 while smaller rival Sunlife fell 6.5 percent to C$39.23.

Investors also sold off Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO: Quote), which saw its stock drop 11.5 percent to C$2.69, after the airplane maker reported a loss, replaced its chief executive, suspended dividends, sought to raise $2 billion, and revealed more cost overruns in a key project.

Yet the index was kept in the black in part by the sector that has most heavily weighed in recent months: energy.

Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote) gained 1.6 percent to C$39.10, and natural gas company Keyera Corp (KEY.TO: Quote) jumped 10 percent to C$82.22 after splitting its stock and raising its dividend.

Oil prices remained choppy, jumping more than 3 percent and extending their gains from the previous session. [O/R]

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the day up 77.02 points, or 0.51 percent, at 15,228.52.

But for one portfolio manager, the energy bump is not to be trusted. The sector is overrun with speculators with three-hour attention spans and best avoided by longer-term investors, he said.   Continued...

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch