CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends flat as resource stocks gain, banks slip
* TSX down 3.33 points, or 0.02 percent, at 15,125.67 * Five of 10 main index sectors advance (Adds strategist comment, updates prices to close) By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended little changed on Tuesday as worries about increasing tensions in the Middle East were overcome by gains in the natural resource sectors. The flat performance was in contrast to a slump in European indices and slips in the main U.S. stock markets. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended the day down 3.33 points, or 0.02 percent, at 15,125.67. It had lost a combined 336 points over the previous two sessions. "15,000 is going to be a big support that I think will inevitably be tested, and it's quite likely that it even drifts lower from there," said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. "But our year-end target is still 15,500, we don't see any reason to change that at this point." Half of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher, but there was also a lack of conviction within some sectors. "It's an uneven scenario playing out in the energy producer space," Picardo said, pointing out that Talisman Energy Inc's 4.6 percent jump to C$10.27 comes after several weeks of slips, while stronger names such as Suncor Energy Inc fell back. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, slipped 0.3 percent, with Bank of Nova Scotia down 0.4 percent at C$70.98 and Manulife Financial Corp slipping 0.8 percent to C$21.77. Farm supplier Agrium Inc gained 2.7 percent to C$104.58, up on a more stable outlook for nitrogen prices after a proposed merger of the two big players in global nitrogen production. Gold miners also gained, even as an early rise in the price of bullion on the first U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants inside Syria failed to hold. Goldcorp Inc advanced 1.5 percent to C$26.13, and Eldorado Gold Corp climbed 4.8 percent to C$7.84. The Toronto equity market sold off sharply in the previous two sessions, with geopolitical tensions fueling volatility. "It's a mixed market," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. "Obviously there are some people buying as they think the correction is over, and there are some people selling." "The market needs a little more cleansing than the 500-odd points that we've come down in Canada," Cockfield said. Overall, shares of energy producers climbed 0.4 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd rising 0.9 percent to C$43.93 and TransCanada Corp off 1.8 percent at C$59.60. (Additional reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Grant McCool and James Dalgleish)
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