TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was little changed in choppy trade on Monday as worries about increasing instability in Ukraine were overcome by shares of natural resource producers benefiting from stronger commodity prices.
Ukraine said Russia’s military presence in Crimea was growing, and U.S. President Barack Obama called Russia’s actions a violation of international law and of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Volatility jumped as the geopolitical tensions took center stage. The S&P/TSX VIX index .GSPVIXC, considered the market’s fear gauge, shot up nearly 13 percent.
While global equity markets were hit by those concerns, the resource-sensitive Canadian index was insulated a little as investors found safe havens in commodities such as gold and oil.
Investors did not appear to be bracing for a worst-case scenario, at least not yet.
“Overall investors are disconcerted, but there is very little panic,” said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. “As bad as the Ukraine situation is, it is still being seen as something that is isolated to a part of Europe.”
“If there’s an outright war, and the situation really deteriorates, then suddenly you have concerns about global growth,” he added. “That would really not be a good thing for the TSX.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 3.15 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,212.74. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
The price of U.S. crude oil shot up 2.1 percent on supply worries, given Russia is a major oil producer. Shares of energy producers gained, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) adding 0.8 percent to C$40.83.
Gold-mining shares advanced 1.7 percent, reflecting a 2.2 percent jump in the bullion.
In corporate news, Osisko Mining (OSK.TO) said it agreed to settle its lawsuit against Goldcorp and would allow Goldcorp to conduct due diligence in connection with its hostile takeover bid for Osisko.
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) was up 1.9 percent at C$30.32. Osisko climbed 6.4 percent to C$7.50 and was the biggest percentage gainer on the index.
Magna International (MG.TO) rose 5.3 percent to C$103.75 after the auto parts supplier reported a higher quarterly profit and raised its dividend.
Editing by Peter Galloway