CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady in low volume as investors eye fiscal cliff
* TSX ends down 5.34 points at 12,191.46 * Energy and materials fall, financials rise By Claire Sibonney TORONTO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed in quiet trade on Monday as concerns about the possibility of a fiscal crisis in the United States offset encouraging Chinese economic data. With U.S. and Canadian bond markets closed for the Veterans Day and Remembrance Day holidays, activity was light. Volume was a sparse 107 million shares, compared with the daily average of 281.9 million traded in October. Energy and gold-mining shares were among the top laggards on the index as the underlying commodity prices fell. Miner Goldcorp Inc was down 1.9 percent at C$43.44 and oil producer Canadian Natural Resources lost 2.1 percent to C$27.87. Overall, Canadian shares took their cue from uncertainty on Wall Street over whether the United States can avoid the "fiscal cliff," a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect early next year, threatening a recession, unless Congress and the White House reach a deal to avoid it. "All eyes are on the fiscal cliff ... I think you're going to see a sideways moving market until you get some sort of direction of which way the fiscal cliff is going to go," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. "Either you have a very nice bounce in January or you get the opposite direction and you see a big selloff if the fiscal cliff does not get resolved." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 5.34 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,191.46, after bouncing between positive and negative territory throughout the day. "People are still a little bit confused and they're kind of waiting I think to see what Mr. Obama is going to do," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities. "It's a very large overhang for the market." The index started the day on slightly firmer ground after data showed Chinese exports picked up sharply in October, signaling the giant economy was gathering strength. "My expectation is that we will get a steady round of positive news from China which will help out the commodities," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. Still, the data was not able to trump worries of a drawn-out U.S. budget impasse, as well as concerns about delays to an installment of Greek aid to help pay off its debt. Seven of the TSX's 10 sectors were higher, including financials, up 0.4 percent, as investors bought into Canada's stable and dividend-paying banks as a safe-haven bet in an uncertain, low-interest-rate environment. Toronto-Dominion Bank rose 0.8 percent to C$80.68, Bank of Nova Scotia was up 0.3 percent to C$53.98. Insurers also helped lift the sector, as Manulife Financial gained 1 percent to C$12.30 and Sun Life Financial added 1.3 percent to C$26.49. In individual company news, Research In Motion rose 2.9 percent to C$8.81 after announcing it plans to introduce its long-delayed BlackBerry 10 platform and devices on Jan. 30. Canadian home-improvement retailer and distributor Rona Inc climbed 4.6 percent to C$10.59, though the company and U.S. rival Lowe's Cos Inc both denied a newspaper report that they were back in takeover talks. Canadian home furnishing retailer Leon's Furniture Ltd rose 2 percent to C$11.80 after announcing it is buying smaller domestic rival The Brick Ltd, which surged 52 percent to C$5.32, in a deal worth about C$700 million.
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