TSX ends flat as Libya crisis buffets markets

Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:24pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed little changed on Wednesday as the violent revolt in Libya helped bolster energy and gold shares but dragged on overall market sentiment.

Most global stock markets fell as investors moved away from risky assets into safe havens such as gold and bonds as U.S. crude oil prices hit a 28-month high of $100 a barrel in reaction to the Libyan crisis, spurring inflation fears. Output in Libya, an OPEC producer, fell due to the turmoil there.

Among Toronto-listed oil producers rising were Suncor Energy, up 2.26 percent at C$46.08, Encana Corp, up 3.47 percent to C$31.64, and Nexen Inc, which advanced 3.81 percent to C$25.58. The index's energy group climbed 1.34 percent.

The materials group, home to mining firms, rose 1.1 percent as gold miners gained on the back of bullion prices that jumped 1 percent.

Barrick Gold firmed 1.7 percent to C$51.92. Kinross Gold gained 2.28 percent to C$15.70, while Agnico Eagle jumped 2.9 percent C$70.66.

Gold prices rose to their highest level in more than seven weeks as the soaring crude prices fueled worries that economic recovery might stall.

"The issues are certainly getting people to reevaluate the risks that they have in their portfolios right now," said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.

"And let's face it, the market has had a decent run, so people might be using this as an opportunity to take some profits and move into some cash and look for some bargains."   Continued...