TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended in positive territory on Tuesday, firming slightly after a sharp loss in the previous session, as a jump in the price of U.S. crude oil boosted shares of energy producers.
But declines in some retail shares helped keep a check on those gains as investors were unable to shrug off a wave of uncertainty that has been gaining momentum in recent weeks.
Sluggish economic data from the United States and China darkened the market's mood on Monday, when the Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark index fell more than 200 points and hit a one-month low.
Global markets have been jittery of late with sentiment hit by concerns about some emerging-market currencies and economies and by the U.S. Federal Reserve's scaling back of its stimulus program.
Volatility in Argentina's peso and Turkey's lira currencies as well as signs of a slowdown in China have made investors wary of riskier assets. Investors also digested news that Standard & Poor's cut its credit rating on Puerto Rico to junk-bond status.
"People have become more cognizant of risk," said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities. "When growth concerns start resurfacing, the TSX bears the brunt of those worries."
"But we don't want to see panic selling to set in, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 18.28 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,504.48.
Five of the 10 main sectors on the index closed in positive territory.
Energy shares rose 0.8 percent, with U.S. crude oil gaining 1 percent. In the group, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) climbed 2.3 percent to C$36.98, and Encana Corp jumped 4.3 percent to C$20.44.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, added 0.5 percent. Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO rose 0.3 percent to C$26.36, and Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) gained 1.2 percent to C$27.82.
In corporate news, WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) reported an 11 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit and raised its dividend. The stock was up 3.4 percent at C$25.70.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said it planned to invest about C$500 million ($452.35 million) this year to expand in Canada, weighing on shares of domestic rivals. Canadian Tire (CTCa.TO) dropped 1.2 percent to C$93.71, and Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO) slipped 0.2 percent to C$42.32.
Editing by Peter Galloway, G Crosse