TSX ends flat as energy bounce offsets lower financials

Thu Mar 9, 2017 5:26pm EST
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By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended flat on Thursday as a rebound in energy led by Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote), after sharp losses the day before, offset losses for the financial sector.

Canadian Natural Resources jumped 9.8 percent to C$43.31 after reaching a deal to buy most of the Canadian oil sands assets of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote) for $7.25 billion.

"That's a pretty smart move ... to pick up some more assets when the price is still fairly cheap," said Marcus Xu, president & director, M.Y. Capital Management Corp.

The overall energy group rallied 1.6 percent even as oil prices fell. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled $1 lower at $49.28 a barrel as record U.S. crude inventories fed doubts about whether Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries-led supply cuts would reduce a global glut.

Despite Thursday's gains, the energy group has fallen more than 10 percent since the start of the year. On Wednesday, it posted its lowest close since September.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 0.14 of a point at 15,496.84.

Six of the index's 10 main groups ended lower. The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.4 percent as lower metal prices offset gains for fertilizer shares.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc (POT.TO: Quote) rose 2.9 percent to C$23.49, and merger partner Agrium Inc (AGU.TO: Quote) gained 2.9 percent to C$131.18 on prospects of less competition in the potash market.   Continued...

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