TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index finished little changed on Monday, with advances in energy and materials stocks offsetting a retreat in financial shares, but volumes were extremely low as the massive Hurricane Sandy bore down on the U.S. East Coast and closed U.S. stock markets.
Monday’s closure was the stock market’s first weather-related close in 27 years and will remain closed on Tuesday.
Energy stocks were up 0.33 percent, partially tracking firmer heating oil futures, as dealers hedged against the risk of power outages and flooding from Sandy that could damage refineries and keep production shut for weeks.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the North American mainland, with fifty million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada in its path.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished up 12.45 points, or 0.10 percent, at 12,312.75. Volume was a sparse 77.74 million, versus the 356.4 million daily average in September, the last complete month of statistics provided by the exchange.
“We’re not going to take any leadership until the U.S. markets opens again,” said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners of Richardson GMP, adding that investors will take their next cues from Europe and Asia overnight in light of Tuesday’s U.S. equity market closure.
“It’s hard to read too much into the price action today just based on no liquidity from the U.S.”
The scant volume resulted in disproportionate swings in the index on Monday. Seven of the index’s 10 main groups were higher.
Energy shares were also buoyed by news that Malaysian state oil company Petronas has extended the closing date on its bid for Progress Energy Resources Corp (PRQ.TO) until November 30, as it works to overturn the Canadian government’s rejection of the proposed C$5.17 billion ($5.18 billion) deal.
The shares of the Canadian gas producer jumped 7.9 percent to C$19.81. Fellow takeover target Nexen Inc NXY.TO surged 5.41 percent to finish at 24.53. Nexen is the focus of a $15.1 billion takeover bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK).
TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) was also among the most influential stocks in a quiet session, with shares up 1.13 percent to C$44.90.
Canada’s largest pipeline company said it will build a C$3 billion ($3.01 billion) pipeline in northern Alberta with privately held Phoenix Energy Holdings Ltd to transport crude from the Athabasca oil sands.
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) gave the index its biggest lift, rising 2.10 percent to C$44.65, while Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) rose 1.23 percent to C$39.60. The overall materials group, home to mining companies, gained 0.23 percent.
Weighing on the index was a 0.41 percent retreat in financials, led by Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which shed 0.84 percent to C$56.35. Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) followed, declining 0.60 percent to C$80.68. Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) gave back 1.30 percent to 12.14.
Editing by Andre Grenon