UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks little changed, MDA weighs

Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:12am EDT
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(Updates to midmorning)

TORONTO, April 10 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was little changed on Thursday morning, held down by a big drop in MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates MDA.TOshares after the Canadian government blocked the sale of its satellite unit to a U.S. company.

MDA was the biggest loser by weight, down C$4.23, or 9 percent, at C$42.62, following the government's unprecedented move to block the sale to rocket-maker Alliant Techsystems ATK.N.

Investors also took the opportunity to consolidate their positions following a strong advance in recent weeks.

"We had such a rally over the last three weeks, so it has just been overbought and now people are taking profits," said Paul Gardner, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management. "It was time to cool off and sell."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 9.99 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,760.54 with four of its 10 main sectors higher.

TransAlta Corp TA.TO gave the index a boost on news that Unit 4 at its Sundance power plant in Alberta had returned to normal service on Wednesday. TransAlta was up C$2.14, or 6.9 percent, at C$33.35, helping the utilities sector gain 1.6 percent.

The heavyweight energy sector edged up 0.2 percent, but the group was mixed with Imperial Oil IMO.TO losing 33 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, to C$54.87, while Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO moved up 94 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$79.06.

Gold producers gave up 0.7 percent, with Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM.TO down 79 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, at C$71.41, and Barrick Gold ABX.TO off 31 Canadian cents, or 0.7 percent, at C$44.65.   Continued...