(Adds portfolio manager comment, updates prices to close)
* TSX ends up 30.93 points, or 0.21 percent, at 14,624.50
* Nine of the TSX’s 10 main groups rise
* Energy group gains 1.4 pct, utilities rise 2.1 pct
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, July 7 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index erased a sharp fall to end in positive territory on Tuesday, with energy stocks rebounding with oil prices and utilities gaining on bets the Bank of Canada could cut rates next week to stimulate a struggling economy.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 30.93 points, or 0.21 percent, at 14,624.50.
It had fallen as low as 14,389.10 as investors fretted over Greece, China and a widening trade deficit.
“With crude oil today, it was approaching $50.50 and now it’s at $52.80,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. “There’s an undercurrent of bullishness and big dips will be met with some buying.”
Energy stocks gained 1.4 percent after hitting lows not seen since mid-January. Suncor Energy Inc added 2.3 percent to C$34.95 and pipeline operator Enbridge Inc rose 2 percent to C$58.67.
Crude prices, which plunged as much as 8 percent on Monday, pared those losses on Tuesday, settling slightly lower.
Utilities, typically dividend-focused and therefore sensitive to changes in the interest rate outlook, gained 2.1 percent as investors priced in a more than 50 percent chance Canada’s central bank cuts rates next week.
Supporting the view that a rate cut may be imminent, Canada’s trade deficit for May widened to its second-largest on record as non-energy exports fell. Lower rates would depress the loonie and thus could bolster exports.
The materials group, home to mining companies, was the lone decliner among the index’s ten main groups, off 2.9 percent to its lowest level since December.
The group suffered as gold and silver fell to multi-month lows and copper crashed to a six-year low due to instability created by the Greek debt crisis and a stock market rout in China despite Beijing’s efforts to support equities.
“Greece is hogging the headlines but from a TSX perspective certainly we have to be more concerned about what’s happening in China,” Picardo said.
Silver Wheaton Corp plunged 11.7 percent to C$19.62 after the mining finance company said it may face additional tax payments.
Barrick Gold Corp lost 4.6 percent to C$13.10 and First Quantum Minerals gave up 5.2 percent to C$15.02.
“It’s tough to get excited about the commodities, with Canada having so many of them, given what’s going on with China, Greece,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 143 to 99, with four companies posting new 52-week highs and 17 hitting new lows. (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Christian Plumb)