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, the main driver behind the index's rally, were up 7.3 percent at C$29.35, while Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO 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...