CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends 2014 with 7.4 pct gain despite oil's fall

Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:06pm EST
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO Dec 31 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed little changed after a choppy session on Wednesday, but it ended 2014 in positive territory despite a precipitous slide in oil prices that hit the resource-heavy index hard in the second half of the year.

The index rose 7.4 percent for the year, a slowdown from the previous year's 9.6 percent gain and it closed more than 1,000 points below the record high it reached in September.

"The TSX was pretty much firing on all cylinders right until September," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "Then once the collapse in crude oil prices started, sentiment for the index really took a total turn."

On Wednesday, the index and its heavily weighted energy and materials sectors swung repeatedly from losses to gains and back again. Volume was relatively light, which can magnify volatility.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 7.6 points, or 0.05 percent, at 14,632.44.

The oil rout continued after data showed sluggish demand and an increasing supply glut at the U.S. storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, but oil and gas stocks slipped only 0.1 percent on Wednesday.

Keith Richards, portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend Wealth Management, said he expects further declines in oil, as well as lower copper prices in 2015.

"We could see a bounce on oil, it could go from the fifties back to $60 or something in the short term, but generally speaking I think oil is heading down to the forties again," he said. "I can't be bullish on commodities."   Continued...