CANADA STOCKS-TSX seesaws; commodity gains offset lower insurers

Thu May 7, 2009 11:21am EDT
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* Early near-2 percent gain fizzles

* Index reaches highest since Oct 14 before retreat

* Financials lower as two insurers report quarterly loss (Adds details)

TORONTO, May 7 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was little changed on Thursday, as weaker-than-expected results in the insurance sector pulled financial shares lower, offsetting a firmer tone in commodity prices.

The index shot out of the gate at the open, rising close to 2 percent, but gains faded quickly and the index moved in and out of negative territory.

The price of oil slipped below $58 a barrel, off a fresh 2009 high, but was still firm as a surge in global stock markets raised expectations of economic improvement and a subsequent increase in demand for oil products. [ID:nSP407747]

The energy group was up 0.55 percent after accelerating close to a 4 percent gain at the open.

The materials sector, home to gold companies, was off 0.1 percent. The firmer price of the yellow metal, which rose sharply as a break through the previous day's high sparked technical buying, limited the fall in the materials group. [ID:nL7976027]

Gainers moving the overall index were from the commodity-related sectors, which make up about 40 percent of the index's weighting. Goldcorp G.TO rose 4.2 percent to C$36.95, while EnCana ECA.TO advanced 0.49 percent to C$61.50. Suncor was up 1.5 percent at C$35.70.   Continued...