CANADA STOCKS-TSX little changed; energy gains offset telecom dip
* TSX rises 7.99 points, or 0.06 percent, to 12,839.94 * Six of 10 main sectors decline * Index briefly touches 5-week high * Canadian Natural gains 1.8 pct after dividend hike * Telecoms shares drop 1 pct after gov't policy change By John Tilak TORONTO, March 7 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Thursday after briefly hitting a five-week high, as gains in energy shares on higher oil prices were offset by a drop in telecom issues after the Canadian government moved to boost competition in the sector. Shares of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd were among the most influential gainers. The stock climbed 1.8 percent to C$31.74 after the independent oil producer reported a sharp fall in quarterly profit but raised its dividend. Investors were also encouraged by data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a pick-up in the labor market recovery. The news helped lift U.S. stocks. The Toronto index is up about 3 percent this year, lagging an 8 percent rise in the S&P 500. "The TSX will go in the same direction as the U.S. market, but it will lag," said Douglas Davis, chief executive officer at Davis-Rea. "We're in rougher shape because of our commodity sector, which is not booming at the moment." The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, has shed more than 9 percent since the start of the year and is the worst performing group on the index by far. It was down 0.45 percent on Thursday, hurt by a drop in gold stocks. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 7.99 points, or 0.06 percent, at 12,839.94. It rose as far as 12,869.64, its highest point since in Jan. 30. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were lower. Gains were kept in check by a 1 percent decline in telecoms shares. The Canadian government said it would start the process of auctioning prime wireless spectrum on Nov. 19 as it announced plans to extend rules on roaming and cell-tower sharing to help stimulate wireless competition. Telus Corp gave back 1.4 percent to C$69.81, Rogers Communications Inc slipped 1.7 percent to C$48.80 and BCE Inc declined 0.5 percent to C$46.95. The three stocks, the biggest telecoms providers in Canada, were among the top laggards on the index. Energy shares added almost 1 percent and played the biggest positive role on the index, helped by higher oil prices and a rise in Canadian Natural.
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