CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as positive data offsets Iraq concerns

Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:54pm EDT
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* TSX down 3.34 points, or 0.02 percent, at 15,105.63
    * Six of the 10 main index sectors decline
    * Valeant slips after Allergan advises against deal
    * SNC climbs after acquisition move

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, June 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Monday as worries about political instability
in Iraq were balanced by upbeat economic data from China and the
United States.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Iraqi Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki to push for more inclusive leadership as
government forces abandoned the border with Jordan, leaving
Iraq's entire Western frontier outside government control.
    Meanwhile, data showed an expansion in Chinese factory
sector activity in June for the first time in six months as new
orders surged. U.S. housing and manufacturing data also painted
a promising picture.  
    Some fund managers fear the Toronto market, which had its
highest-ever close last week, might have run ahead of itself and
see few catalysts that could fuel further gains. The benchmark
index is up about 11 percent this year, driven largely by a
strong rally in the energy sector.
    "The only thing that's probably going to give wheels to the
TSX is if oil wants to keep going," said Keith Richards,
portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend Wealth
Management. "Those catalysts that could push oil higher are more
of a bet than a probability.
    "Would I be going gangbusters about the TSX over the next
three months? Probably not," he added. "I think there are more
opportunities on the U.S. side."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 3.34 points, or 0.02 percent, at
15,105.63. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the
    Industrials slipped 0.4 percent, with Air Canada 
losing 7 percent to C$8.77 and Canadian National Railway Co
 giving back 0.9 percent to C$67.69.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, advanced
1 percent, helped by an increase in copper prices. First Quantum
Minerals Ltd jumped 3.2 percent to C$22.43, and Teck
Resources Ltd added 1.3 percent to C$24.44.
    In corporate news, Allergan Inc advised investors
not to sell their shares to Valeant Pharmaceuticals
International, which launched a hostile takeover offer
for the California-based Botox maker last week. Allergan said
Valeant's offer was "grossly inadequate". Valeant shares fell
1.4 percent to C$130.06. 
    Engineering and construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc
 said that it would acquire British energy services
provider Kentz Corp for about 1.16 billion pounds
($1.98 billion) in cash. SNC's stock climbed 1.7 percent to
    ($1=$1.07 Canadian)

 (Editing by Peter Galloway)