TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose slightly on Thursday after positive U.S. jobless claims data helped boost the financial and industrial sectors, overcoming weakness in natural resource shares.
Trading has been choppy so far this year, with investors trying to balance their portfolios after the Toronto market advanced 9.6 percent in 2013. The benchmark index, having declined in the first three sessions of 2014, has recorded gains in the next three.
A day after a positive private jobs report, figures on Thursday indicated the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell slightly more than expected.
The recent wave of positive U.S. labor market data suggested that the employment outlook was brightening, raising expectations of a bullish nonfarm payrolls report on Friday. But some investors said they were looking for greater consistency in jobs growth.
“I’d like to see a little higher number tomorrow, a little higher number next month and a little higher number in the month after that,” said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management.
“That would tell me that we’re going in the right direction, and that we’re lifting off the ground and flying out of the airport,” he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 14.78 points, or 0.11 percent, at 13,629.41.
“We expect to see the market roller coaster this year,” Mastracci said. “The bulls have been running for quite some time now.”
He said the Toronto market’s prospects will be impacted by the performance of the U.S. economy.
Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Thursday.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, added 0.5 percent, helped by a 3 percent gain in Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) to C$21.99. Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO), another life insurer, was up 1.8 percent at C$38.01.
The industrial group advanced 0.6 percent, with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP.TO) climbing 2.2 percent to C$161.19.
But the mining sub-sector declined 1.8 percent.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd (FM.TO) dropped 2.5 percent to CC$18.31, and Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO fell 2.1 percent to C$25.72.
HudBay Minerals Inc (HBM.TO) slipped 2.7 percent to C$8.57 after the company agreed to offer 18.2 million of its common stock at C$8.25 a share.
Shares of energy producers lost 0.7 percent, with Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) giving back 0.5 percent to C$37.29.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) slipped 0.4 percent to C$35.11 after the oil producer said it has dropped plans to sell some of its shale gas-rich Montney properties after failing to attract a suitable offer.
Editing by Stephen Powell and Meredith Mazzilli