CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as bank, energy shares gain; Barrick falls
* TSX down 2.66 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,530.91 * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance * Barrick drops 3 percent after Newmont ends merger talks By John Tilak TORONTO, April 28 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as weakness in shares of Barrick Gold Corp and concerns about the volatile situation in Ukraine were offset by gains in the financial and energy sectors. Barrick shed 3.1 percent after Newmont Mining said it had ended merger discussions with Barrick, criticizing its suitor and stating the talks had failed due to a lack of a constructive, mutually respectful dialogue. Also weighing on the market was a move by the United States to freeze assets and impose visa bans on seven powerful Russians close to President Vladimir Putin, as well as to sanction 17 companies in reprisal for Moscow's actions in Ukraine. "We still have a market that wants to rethink itself all the time," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod. "Everyone is waiting for some kind of a direction." Worries about Ukraine have not become a huge factor so far, he added. Investors should be aware of the situation but shouldn't "jump the ship yet," he said. Despite the short-term volatility, appetite for Canadian stocks remains positive, Ketchen said. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index is up nearly 7 percent this year, buoyed by strengthening commodity prices and a rebound in shares of natural resource producers. The Canadian benchmark closed down 2.66 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,530.91. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Shares of energy producers rose 0.1 percent. Suncor Energy Inc climbed 0.9 percent to C$41.34, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advanced 0.5 percent to C$44.86. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose slightly. Bank of Nova Scotia was up 0.3 percent at C$65.62. Barrick shares fell to C$19.12 and had the biggest negative influence on the index. ($1=$1.10 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)
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