CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends flat amid Ukraine fears, upbeat U.S. data

* TSX down 5.26 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,178.84
    * Six of 10 main index sectors decline
    * Oil prices help push up energy shares

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
ended little changed on Thursday after worries about the Ukraine
crisis overshadowed positive economic signals from the United
    The index's energy and materials groups rose on higher
prices for some commodities, but shares of banks and insurers
    A government report showed that fourth-quarter U.S. economic
growth was faster than previously estimated, and separate data
indicated that new applications for unemployment benefits
dropped last week to a near four-month low. 
    Worries about the crisis in Ukraine continued to nag at the
market, however. Ukraine has won an IMF-linked $27-billion
international financial lifeline, it was announced on Thursday,
while Moscow's economy minister warned of slowing growth in
    "Notwithstanding these geopolitical risks, the market
continues to be driven by monetary policy," said Vincent
Delisle, a managing director and investment strategist at
Scotiabank, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus
    "The first-quarter numbers in the U.S. have been dismissed
by the Fed and by investors and blamed on the weather," he said.
"I would agree with that."
    Delisle is optimistic about the prospects for the Canadian
equity market, which underperformed the S&P 500 in 2013. 
    "It's definitely a year when the TSX comes very close to the
S&P 500 in terms of market returns, in contrast to last year." 
    After hitting a near six-year high last week, the benchmark
Canadian index has gained about 4 percent this year, but it is
down on the month. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 5.26 points, or 0.04 percent, at
14,178.84. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
dropped 0.4 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia shed 0.7
percent to C$64.22, and Manulife Financial Corp gave
back 0.7 percent to C$21.27. 
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, climbed
0.3 percent. In the group, Goldcorp Inc added 1 percent
to C$27.46, and Barrick Gold Corp rose 0.8 percent to
    With oil prices rising, energy shares advanced 1 percent.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd climbed 1.1 percent to
C$41.79 and Suncor Energy Inc was up 1.6 percent at
    ($1=$1.11 Canadian)

 (Editing by Peter Galloway and James Dalgleish)