CANADA STOCKS-TSX notches best monthly gain since 2011 on oil rebound

Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:00pm EDT
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(Adds analyst comment, market details, updates prices to close)

* TSX ends down 9.62 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,494.36

* Index rises 5 pct in March, best month since October 2011

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended slightly lower on Thursday as losses for materials and financial stocks canceled out advances for energy stocks, whose recent strength helped the index notch its best monthly performance in more than four years.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index gained 5 percent in March, its biggest monthly move higher since October 2011, with its recovery from a swoon to start the year helped by a rebound in oil prices.

"In terms of the quarter, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride," said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung Investment Management.

He said he questioned the sustainability of the rally given it was likely boosted by short covering and that a handful of geopolitical risks stand ready to trigger a selloff.

"This is a time to be fairly cautious," he said, recommending selective accumulation in energy and materials as well as in insurance companies and some industrial stocks.   Continued...