TSX notches best monthly gain since 2011 on oil rebound

Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:04pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended slightly lower on Thursday as losses for materials and financial stocks canceled out advances for energy stocks, whose recent strength helped the index notch its best monthly performance in more than four years.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE gained 5 percent in March, its biggest monthly move higher since October 2011, with its recovery from a swoon to start the year helped by a rebound in oil prices.

"In terms of the quarter, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride," said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung Investment Management.

He said he questioned the sustainability of the rally given it was likely boosted by short covering and that a handful of geopolitical risks stand ready to trigger a selloff.

"This is a time to be fairly cautious," he said, recommending selective accumulation in energy and materials as well as in insurance companies and some industrial stocks.

On the day, the S&P/TSX index ended down 9.62 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,494.36.

The energy group climbed 0.9 percent as oil prices were steady to firmer at the end of their best month in almost a year. [O/R]

The most influential gainers on the index included two of its biggest energy companies: Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO: Quote), which rose 1.5 percent to C$36.17, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO: Quote), which added 1.4 percent to C$35.13.   Continued...

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