CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady; Brookfield Office gain offsets U.S. budget fears

Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:41am EDT
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* TSX rises 3.44 points, or 0.03 percent, to 12,847.52
    * Seven of the 10 main index sectors decline
    * Brookfield Office Properties jumps on takeover deal
    * SNC-Lavalin climbs after plan to sell AltaLink stake
    * Petrominerales soars 51 percent on Pacific Rubiales bid

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks were little
changed on Monday as a jump in Brookfield Office Properties
 helped offset broad market weakness fueled by worries
about the congressional budget impasse that threatened to
paralyze the U.S. government.
    Shares of Brookfield Office Properties jumped 14.1 percent
after parent company Brookfield Property Partners 
said it would buy the 49 percent of Brookfield Office that it
did not already own to consolidate their office property
    Also dampening investor sentiment was political uncertainty
in Italy, where some senators from Silvio Berlusconi's
center-right party looked ready to form a breakaway group unless
the former premier backed down on his hard line to bring down
Italy's government and head to elections. 
    As a midnight shutdown deadline approached, Democrats who
control the U.S. Senate appeared confident that they would
defeat Republicans' efforts to delay "Obamacare" health reforms,
which would enable them to send a "clean" funding bill back to
the House of Representatives for a vote. 
    "It's politics impinging on capital markets, in a negative
way," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio
manager at Northland Wealth Management. U.S. politicians are
playing to their home crowds, he added.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 3.44 points, or 0.03 percent, at 12,847.52.
    In comparison, U.S. stocks were down sharply, and the TSX
looked set to outperform the S&P 500 in the third
    The Canadian index will do better than its U.S. counterpart
in the fourth quarter as well, said Cockfield, who expects the
TSX to end the year at 13,500.
    Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on
    Tracking a drop in the price of oil, shares of energy
producers shed 0.8 percent. In the group, Suncor Energy Inc
 was down 1.2 percent at C$36.87, and Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd gave back 0.6 percent to C$32.24.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added
0.2 percent, with declines in insurance companies offset by
gains made by banks. Manulife Financial Corp fell 0.9
percent to C$17.22, while Royal Bank of Canada advanced
0.2 percent to C$66.66.
    Gold-mining stocks eked out a small gain, with Goldcorp Inc
 climbing 1.8 percent to C$27.02 and Barrick Gold Corp
 adding 0.4 percent to C$19.18.
    SNC-Lavalin Group jumped 2.7 percent to C$42.48
after the engineering and construction company said it was
looking to sell an equity stake in AltaLink, Alberta's largest
regulated electricity transmission company. 
    Shares in Canadian oil company Petrominerales 
soared about 51 percent to C$11.71 after a takeover deal by
Pacific Rubiales, Colombia's largest private oil