TSX near flat as energy shares fall, gold miners gain

Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:25pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's benchmark stock index ended a touch higher on Monday as gold miners gained, but energy stocks fell and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc slumped on a report its former executives are the focus of a U.S. criminal probe.

The index's energy sector, which accounts for one-fifth of the index's weight, fell 1.9 percent as oil prices settled at one-month lows on doubts about OPEC's ability to implement planned production cuts and expectations that the cartel had record output in October. [O/R]

"Part of this is just letting a little bit of that enthusiastic air out of the balloon," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri, referring to optimism about an OPEC deal that had helped push oil prices above $50 a barrel for much of October.

The index's most influential weights included Suncor Energy Inc, which fell 2.5 percent to C$40.25, and Cenovus Energy Inc, down 3.4 percent to C$19.35.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index settled up 2.11 points, or 0.01 percent, at 14,787.40. It gained 0.4 percent in October.

Valeant shares fell 12 percent to C$23.94 after Bloomberg reported that U.S. prosecutors are building a fraud case against the drugmaker that could yield charges within weeks.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, gained 1.7 percent. Barrick Gold Corp rose 3.1 percent to C$23.60.

Seven of the index's 10 main groups were in positive territory, although advancers only barely outnumbered decliners.   Continued...

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