TSX ends flat as Korea news spooks investors

Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:07pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX ended little changed on Friday as the sinking of a South Korea naval vessel stoked worries about geopolitical tensions in Asia, offsetting growing confidence over a deal for debt-ridden Greece.

News of the ship sinking with more than 100 people on board stirred fears of the possibility of a military confrontation, even though Seoul said it was not clear if North Korea was involved.

The incident stymied the market just as positive sentiment was building around an agreement that would provide a safety net for Athens as it struggles to cut a giant budget deficit.

Gold stocks like Barrick Gold Corp rose along prices for the safe-haven metal, while financial issues such as Royal Bank of Canada slipped.

"There's always something in the world that is going to spook the markets, no matter if the markets are expecting it or not," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index finished 0.74 of a point, or 0.01 percent, lower to 11,957.37. The index ended the week flat at 0.1 percent higher.

"It just seems to me as if investors are looking for excuses to take some of their profits," said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

"The underlying tone is still quite healthy, but given that we've come up quite substantially from last month's lows, I think investors are a little trigger happy," he added.   Continued...

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto in this November 9, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>