CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as bank strength offset by Teck's dive

Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:01pm EDT
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* TSX off down 5.95 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,902.44

* Eight of the index's 10 main sectors fall

* Teck down 10.6 percent on merger-talks denial

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Tuesday as strength in its financial sector was offset by a selloff of miner Teck Resources Ltd after it denied it was in merger talks.

Teck retreated 10.6 percent to C$17.38. The stock had surged on Monday after Bloomberg News reported that Teck and Chile's Antofagasta Plc were in early-stage merger discussions. Both companies subsequently denied the report.

The index's materials sector, home to mining shares, was off 1.6 percent, pressured in part by weak commodity prices. Gold was headed for its third quarter of price drops, while nickel prices extended recent hefty losses, hitting the lowest price in nearly six years on record supply and weak demand.

"Commodity prices have been bouncing around," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "This period of calm in which we were for many months is well and truly over, and investors should brace for more volatility going forward."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 5.95 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,902.44. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.   Continued...