CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat in light trading; TransCanada, gold miners drop
* TSX closes down 6.71 points, or 0.05 percent, at 14,493.68 * TransCanada off 3.7 percent on Keystone XL pipeline delay * Gold miners drop as Barrick-Newmont merger talks hit snag By Solarina Ho TORONTO, April 21 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed in thin Easter holiday trading on Monday with drops in Barrick Gold Corp and TransCanada Corp , which was hit by another delay for its Keystone XL pipeline project, offsetting gains in other groups. Markets in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia were closed for Easter Monday. TransCanada was the biggest drag on the index, closing down 3.7 percent at C$49.38 after the Obama administration again delayed a decision on whether to approve the Keystone project. Several analysts downgraded the stock. The TSX index's energy group, of which TransCanada is a part, was off 0.05 percent. The heavily weighted materials group, home to gold miners, was down 0.4 percent, hurt by Barrick, which fell 3.9 percent to C$19.03. Merger talks between Barrick and Newmont Mining Corp hit a snag, but sources close to the situation say the companies remain keen to reach a deal and discussions are likely to resume. "There was some expectation built into Barrick stock. To see that come under question has obviously impacted that stock today," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. Overall, Fehr said the TSX index was not driven by any broad themes at the industry or market level, and that the market would be focused on quarterly earnings results in the coming days and weeks. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished the session down 6.71 points, or 0.05 percent, at 14,493.68. Six of the index's 10 main sectors edged lower. "Keep in mind half the world's away on holiday, Easter Monday ... A lot of the players are not around," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. Osisko Mining Corp shares slid 3.4 percent to C$7.73 after Goldcorp Inc announced it was dropping its hostile bid to buy the smaller miner. Goldcorp rose 2 percent to C$26.53. The move clears the way for Yamana Gold Inc and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd to take control of Osisko's flagship Canadian Malartic gold mine. Agnico was off 3.9 percent at C$30.05 and Yamana was down 2.5 percent at C$8.54. Gold miners in general shadowed bullion prices, which slipped to a nearly three-week low on sharp outflows from the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, a stronger U.S. dollar, and technical selling. Among gainers, fertilizer producer Potash Corp gained 1.5 percent to C$39.02, offsetting some of the losses in the materials group. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International was up 3.2 percent at C$138.76, helping to lift the healthcare group 0.9 percent. Canadian National Railway, Canada's biggest rail company, was also a heavyweight gainer, adding 0.9 percent to finish at C$62.98 ahead of its first-quarter results, due on Tuesday. The overall industrials group was up 0.4 percent. ($1=$1.10 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli; and Peter Galloway)
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