*Oil and gas prices rise
*Profit-taking may linger
*BCE asks Supreme Court to fast-track appeal
TORONTO, May 23 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was set for a balanced open on Friday as energy-related commodities advanced, but a May selloff could be in the cards as investors lock in profits and weigh the effects of surging oil prices.
The Canadian benchmark is close to a record high, driven by its oil and gas stocks. But the energy sector has suffered some profit taking this week, leaving it vulnerable even as U.S. crude resumed its climb toward $133 a barrel on Friday.
Natural gas, another key gauge for the TSX, also headed higher in early futures activity.
“You’re likely looking at a lower opening, with some profit-taking particularly in the energy sector and financials as well,” said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He noted the session may be calm ahead of the U.S. long weekend, and that the month of May typically includes a pre-summer selloff.
BCE Inc (BCE.TO) -- the Canadian telecom group whose C$34.8-billion buyout is uncertain after a Quebec court ruling this week -- could see another day of heavy trading after it asked the Supreme Court to fast-track its appeal of the ruling.
The company’s shares dropped more than 12 percent in the previous session, helping to drag the TSX to a flat Thursday close. For details, see: [nN22488153] and [nN22516099]
Elsewhere in corporate news, pipeline firm TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) could attract attention after the governor of Alaska urged state lawmakers to back the company’s $26-billion gas pipeline proposal. See: [nN22529745]
However, commodities are likely to set the tone for the resource-heavy TSX once again on Friday.
Bullish oil hit Asian and European stocks, and looked set to weigh on U.S. markets, as investors priced in the effects of inflation and higher costs on consumers and corporations.
Among metals, spot gold added more than $6 to $926 an ounce, boding well for TSX gold producers, while a measure of base metals edged lower.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE starts the day at 14,792.36 after adding 1.99 points in the previous session. The index is 336 points off its intraday record high, logged on Wednesday. ($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Scott Anderson)