TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index eked out a slight gain on Wednesday, as investors bought up bank and consumer stocks, while a slip in prices for oil and other commodities hurt energy companies and miners.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE recorded its sixth straight rise, ending up 11.94 points, or 0.08 percent, at 14,502.99.
“There still seems to be that trend by a number of investors to purchase non-resource common stocks, such as consumer stocks,” said Irwin Michael, a portfolio manager at ABC Funds.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX.TO), an acquisitive drugmaker that has risen quickly to become a major force on the index, rose 1.1 percent to C$346.32.
The most influential movers on the index also included Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which rose 0.9 percent to C$77.20, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), which advanced 0.8 percent to C$53.25. The overall financials group climbed 0.5 percent.
Auto parts maker Magna International Inc (MG.TO) gained 2 percent to C$73.73.
Canada’s export sector snapped a five-month losing streak in June, cutting the trade deficit significantly and contributing to a more buoyant tone in the equity market.
“A positive export number means potentially positive GDP data, so that means that maybe the consumer is a little bit better off,” said Bryden Teich, associate portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management.
But the bonhomie was broken by retreats in the price of oil, gold, aluminum and copper that weighed on the index’s large energy and material sectors.
Natural gas producer Encana Corp (ECA.TO) lost 7 percent to C$8.96, miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd (FM.TO) fell 6.3 percent to C$9.49, and pipeline company Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) declined 1.1 percent to C$58.94.
Oil has fallen 21 percent so far this quarter.
“We’re trying to figure out which companies can operate and continue to do well in a situation as terrible as this,” Teich said. He said his firm has positions in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) and Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO).
Six of the index’s 10 main groups were in positive territory, with five advancing issues for every four decliners.
Editing by Peter Galloway; Editing by Grant McCool