December 11, 2014 / 12:53 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. data sparks TSX climb but oil shares stay weak

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014.Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced in choppy trading on Thursday as robust U.S. economic data boosted sentiment even as weak crude prices continued to undermine oil and gas shares.

Most of the market's major sectors rose after figures in the United States showed higher consumer spending in November, helped by lower gasoline prices.

Oil and gas shares stayed weak, however. They have been a major factor in the Toronto stock market's recent retreat, including the benchmark index's 2.4 percent drop on Wednesday. Oil and gas shares have fallen about 43 percent since mid June.

U.S. crude oil prices remained volatile, dropping sharply to below $60 after trading higher early in the session. They have been hit by concerns that supplies of the commodity are increasingly outweighing demand.

Despite Thursday’s gain, the benchmark TSX index is down nearly 6 percent so far this month.

“This rebound is a welcome one, but it’s not very convincing. It’s really hard to see the TSX make a sustained advance from these levels," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.

“I haven’t seen sentiment for the TSX change this quickly,” he said of the recent weakness. “You have the three biggest groups that make up two-thirds of the index floundering,” he added, referring to the index's energy, financials, and materials sectors.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 52.17 points, or 0.38 percent, at 13,905.12. Eight of its 10 main sectors rose.

Oil and gas shares edged lower. Encana Corp (ECA.TO) was down 0.6 percent at C$14.48, and Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO advanced 0.7 percent to C$4.26.

Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) said it planned to reduce capital spending by about 15 percent in 2015. The stock was down slightly at C$20.80.

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, climbed, with Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) rising 0.3 percent to C$64.32, and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) gaining 0.7 percent to C$78.21.

($1=$1.15 Canadian)

Editing by Lisa Von Ahn; and Peter Galloway

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