Toronto stocks seen mixed, but May selloff lurks

Fri May 23, 2008 8:47am EDT
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*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: Quote) -- 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.   Continued...