CANADA STOCKS-TSX up slightly in choppy morning action

Mon Mar 9, 2009 11:45am EDT
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* Energy shares keep TSX higher

* Financials, materials cap gains

* Index off 1 pct at open, then rebounds

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, March 9 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index held steady near the break-even level late Monday morning after a see-saw start to the session, with energy shares pushing it higher, and bank and materials shares dragging it down.

A turnaround in oil prices, helped by speculation that OPEC may cut output again at its Sunday meeting, sparked a rally in the weighty energy sector and helped offset weakness in every other sector on the the index.

Shares of Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), the main driver behind the index's rally, were up 7.3 percent at C$29.35, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) rose 4 percent to C$43.56.

"Energy stocks are looking good today and they have all come up from their lows in the last little while ... They are probably front-running the meeting as I guess most people are expecting another reduction in production," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.

But a 1.5 percent skid in the influential financial index and a 0.86 percent drop in the materials group ate away at the TSX's gains.   Continued...