TSX ends flat, but up on month and quarter

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:36pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX ended little changed on Wednesday as weak banking shares offset stronger resource issues, limiting its gains for the month and latest quarter.

The financial sector declined 0.3 percent, as data showing that U.S. private employers unexpectedly shed jobs in March dampened hopes about the strength of the economic recovery.

Royal Bank of Canada fell 0.5 percent to C$59.44, while Toronto-Dominion Bank dropped 0.5 percent to C$75.70.

"A lot of the rebound in stock prices, and especially in the financial sector, has been predicated on a rapidly improving North American economy and the (U.S.) jobs numbers, being on the softer side, they're making investors a little bit cautious," said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

"For the past three weeks, basically, the market said we're not sure exactly where we're going to go next and we need to see more supportive data from, not just the market, but also from the global economy to convince us that in fact this market should go higher," said Gareth Watson, Canadian equity adviser at ScotiaMcLeod.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 6.48 points, or 0.05 percent, at 12,037.73. The index bounced between gains and losses throughout the day after opening a touch higher.

The TSX ended the month up 3.5 percent and rose 2.5 percent for the quarter, its fourth-straight quarterly gain.

Other data on Wednesday showed the Canadian economy grew at a sizzling pace January, building the case for the central bank to raise lending rates soon, but Picardo said that has already largely factored into the market.   Continued...

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