TSX slips as energy boost offset by banks, Valeant

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended barely lower on Thursday as energy stock gains on higher oil prices were offset by weakness in bank shares and some consumer and telecommunications names and a reversal in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc VRX.TO.

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

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE settled down 1.92 points, or 0.01 percent, at 14,695.68. Advancers outnumbered decliners by a ratio of 1.2-to-1.

The heavyweight energy group climbed 1.3 percent, with Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO up 0.9 percent to C$36.64 and Encana Corp ECA.TO jumping 5.9 percent to C$12.95, as Brent crude rose above $50 a barrel for the first time in six weeks.

But six of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower, including a 0.5 percent fall for financials and a 0.7 percent loss for the smaller consumer staples group.

Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, said the banks may have stepped back as investors bet on a slower pace of U.S. interest rate hikes, following the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last meeting.

He expects their earnings, which start being reported next week, to be encouraging for investors as they stick to or increase their dividend payouts.

“If Calgary starts to feel better I think the banks in general will get a bit of a kick to them also,” he said.

Calgary is Canada’s oil industry hub.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc VRX.TO ended down 3.4 percent at C$37.19, after T. Rowe Price sued the drugmaker over what it called a "fraudulent scheme". The stock had earlier risen as much as 5 percent after the company's creditors agreed to amend loan terms.

Telecom stocks also weighed, with BCE Inc BCE.TO off 0.8 percent at C$61.68 and Rogers Communications Inc RCIb.TO down 0.7 percent at C$56.78.

Brookfield Asset Management BAMa.TO declined 1.4 percent to C$44.05. A source told Reuters on Wednesday that the company plans to buy a majority stake in a water and sewage company to add to its holdings which include property, infrastructure, renewable energy and construction investments.

Foreign investors scooped up Canadian securities for the sixth month in a row in June, driven by the largest purchase of Canadian equities since April 2004, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

Editing by W Simon and Chizu Nomiyama