TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged lower on Friday as worries about the crisis in Ukraine and fears of a slowdown in economic growth in China weighed on investor sentiment.
Moscow sent more troops into Crimea on Friday and repeated its threat to invade other parts of Ukraine, ignoring efforts by the West to prevent the holding of a referendum in Crimea on Sunday on separating from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Jitters about the volatile situation in Ukraine and fears of a slowdown in the Chinese economy have gripped investors in recent days, with the index dropping more than 70 points on Thursday.
The benchmark index recorded its first weekly decline in six weeks. It is up about 4.5 percent so far in 2014, but market analysts are concerned about positive catalysts that could help drive the market even higher.
“We’re into a quiet phase wondering where we’re going to go. Sooner or later we’ll get an idea,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
“You never know how this will end up,” he said of the Ukraine situation. “I think it will eventually blow over, but it does have a negative impact on the market.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 17.48 points, or 0.12 percent, at 14,227.66.
Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Gains in the price of oil helped lift some energy shares. In the group, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) added 0.8 percent to C$39.76, but Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) fell 0.3 percent to C$36.24.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, declined 0.6 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) giving back 0.9 percent to C$71.17.
Shares of Empire Co Ltd (EMPa.TO), which operates Sobeys, Canada’s No. 2 grocery chain, ended down 3.3 percent at C$65.84 after the company reported quarterly results earlier this week that came in far below expectations.
Editing by Peter Galloway and Tom Brown