CANADA STOCKS-TSX dips on energy, materials

Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:29pm EDT
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 * TSX down 4.86 points, or 0.04 percent, at 11,958.11
 * Oil drops as U.S. dollar gains on Europe debt fears
 * Eight of TSX's main groups higher
 (Adds closing numbers, details, quotes)
 By John McCrank
 TORONTO, March 25 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
ended slightly lower on Thursday as energy stocks declined late
in the session on global debt concerns, offsetting a rise in
 Baytex Energy BTE_u.TO ended down 3.5 percent at C$35.12
and Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO shed 0.7 percent to
C$71.84, as a stronger U.S. dollar pressured energy prices,
pushing the energy group down 0.5 percent.
 The greenback strengthened against the euro after a draft
agreement drawn up by the euro zone showed that it and the
International Monetary Fund will share the burden of financial
aid for debt-burdened Greece.
 The heavily-weighted materials group, home to mining
stocks, also finished lower, with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan
POT.TO shedding 2.3 percent to C$122.90, and Goldcorp G.TO
dropping 1.9 percent to C$37.50.
 "Energy and materials, these are the two groups that have
been suffering the most in the past several weeks stock wise,"
due to the global economic concerns, said Joe Ismail, technical
analyst at Maison Placements Canada.
 He said the lower prices in the groups are getting to the
point where "it gets attractive to long-term investors to stick
their noses in."
 "While crude has been around $80 for a while now, the
stocks have been slaughtered, senior ones like EnCana and
Suncor SU.TO and in materials, Barrick Gold ABX.TO."
 Ivanhoe IVN.TO was an exception among miners, gaining 1
percent to C$16.77 after it said late on Wednesday it will
consider spinning off its 50 percent owned Altynalmas Gold
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE closed down 4.86 points, or 0.04 percent, at
11,958.11. Eight of the index's 10 groups ended higher.
 Earlier in the day, the index was up nearly three-quarters
of a percent in a broad rally, led by strength in financials.
 "The market is very jumpy and very volatile," said Irwin
Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds, adding that many fund
managers were adjusting portfolios ahead of month end and
quarter end.
 The financial sector gained 0.6 percent, with
Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO rising 0.6 percent to C$76.50 and
Fairfax Financial up 0.8 percent to C$379.20.
 "When in doubt and you want to put money out, you go into
the banks and you will never be criticized," said Michael.
 "The Bank of Montreal BMO.TO, for instance, yields 4.5
percent, and that's about 20 times better than you can get from
bankers acceptances right now, yielding maybe 0.25 percent."
 Elsewhere, Canadian National Railway CNR.TO rose 1.9
percent to C$61.29 after Macquarie Equities Research raised its
12-month price target to C$70 from C$61 and upgraded its rating
on the stock to outperform from neutral, due to stronger then
expected carload volumes.
 On the earnings front, shares of Lululemon Athletica
LLL.TO gained 9.5 percent to C$40.43, after the clothing
retailer said its quarterly profit nearly tripled, helped by
its line of running gear and a rebound in consumer confidence.
 ($1=$1.02 Canadian)
 (Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)