CANADA STOCKS-Energy issues drive TSX rebound

Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:30pm EDT
 
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* TSX rises 55.80 points, or 0.44 pct, to 12,799.91
    * Energy shares lead, helped by Canadian Natural, EnCana
    * Six index sectors rise, four decline
    * BlackBerry shares slide 3.5 pct


    By Cameron French
    TORONTO, March 14 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
ended higher on Thursday, rebounding from the previous day's
sharp slide bolstered by a rise in energy shares, even though
the Canadian market's underperformance versus comparable U.S.
indices continued.
    Rising oil prices and natural gas futures boosted energy
stocks, as did an upgrade of Canadian Natural Resources
. But the momentum was seen largely as a rebound from
the previous day's weakness, when the sector helped pull the TSX
down by more than 1 percent from 19-month highs.
    "Yesterday it was a bit of an anomaly ... and there is
lighter trader volume this week, so I think we're seeing a
rebound in those names today," said Jeff Bradacs, a portfolio
manager at Manulife Asset Management.
    Brokerage and investment banking firm Stifel raised its
rating on Canadian Natural to "buy" from "hold" and said the
company was well-positioned for the second half of 2013.
 
    The stock rose 4.3 percent to C$33.25, while EnCana Corp
 gained 4.8 percent to C$20.43. All told, TSX energy
issues surged 1.38 percent.
    Weighing on the sector was Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp
, which dropped 5.2 percent to C$23.40 after a Colombian
arbitration tribunal on Wednesday ruled in favor of state-run
oil company Ecopetrol in a dispute over the revenues generated
by an oil field run by the companies. 
    The consumer staples subgroup was also strong, rising 0.68
percent on the back of Shopper's Drug Mart, which rose
1.6 percent to C$42.71, and Alimentation Couche-Tard,
which climbed 1.5 percent to C$56.04 after National Bank
Financial raised its price target to C$58 from C$56.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 rose 55.80 points, or 0.44 percent, to 12,799.91,
gaining ground late in the session. But once again it
underperformed the U.S. S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial
Indices, which each rose just under 0.6 percent.
    The TSX is up 2.9 percent this year, while the S&P has
climbed 9.6 percent.
    "Although in the last month and a half the TSX certainly has
lagged, overall I think generally the market was quite ahead of
fundamentals anyway and for us to be taking a pause in here is
probably not a bad thing," said Michael Sprung, president of
Sprung Investment Management.
    "If anything, I think there's maybe more risk building in
the United States market than what we have here," he added.
    Four of the TSX's ten subgroups ended the session in the
red, led by a 1.05 percent drop in info tech stocks.
    BlackBerry weighed on the group, falling 3.5 percent
to C$15.48, and giving back about half the gains of the previous
session when the stock rose after the company said it had
received an order for 1 million of its smartphones.
 
    In individual company news, Quebecor Inc shares
fell 4.6 percent to C$43.80 after the media and
telecommunications conglomerate reported a 89 percent fall in
quarterly profit. The company also said that Chief Executive
Pierre Karl Peladeau will step down.