CANADA STOCKS-TSX nudges to lower close in quiet trade

Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:47pm EST
 
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   * TSX down 9.50 points, or 0.07 percent, at C$13,371.20
 * Seven of the 10 main groups lower
 * U.S. markets closed on Friday
 By Solarina Ho
 TORONTO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
closed marginally lower on Thursday with most sectors
languishing in the red as trading slowed to a crawl ahead of
the Christmas holidays.
 The heavyweight financials group, which has gained in
recent sessions, led all but three of the index's main groups
lower. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) was the big decliner, down
1.38 percent at C$57.05. Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) was off
1.15 percent to C$17.21.
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE closed down 9.50 points, or 0.07 percent, at
C$13,371.20.
 "It's pretty quiet...We're just batting down for the
holidays. The U.S. is closed tomorrow, so probably we're going
to have the same sort of sleepy day tomorrow," said Levente
Mady, market strategist at Union Securities.
 Tempering losses was a modest 0.19 percent gain among
materials stocks and a 0.05 percent advance in the energy
group. Consumer staples was also in positive territory, up 0.17
percent.
 Fertilizer giant Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) led gains, climbing
1.4 percent to C$145.91. Fellow fertilizer producer Agrium Inc
(AGU.TO: Quote) also rose, rising 1.7 percent to C$86.87.
 Oil and gas shares made some modest headway, with Canadian
Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) up 0.5 percent at C$44.60, and Penn
West Energy Trust PWT_u.TO up 1.37 percent at C$24.36.
 "Oil is up a dollar, so it's not a big surprise energy's
doing a little bit better and leading things along with some of
the other materials," Mady said.
 Oil prices surged above $91 a barrel to their highest level
in more than two years on Thursday, buoyed by cold weather and
depleted stockpiles. [O/R]
 ($1=$1.01 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)