(Adds analyst quotes and details on Manulife, ECB and housing starts, updates prices)
* TSX closes up 6.51 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,803.26
* Energy is only one of 10 major sectors to gain
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher on Thursday as an oil price-driven rally in energy stocks offset broader losses for the market.
The heavyweight energy group climbed nearly 2 percent, the only one of 10 major sectors to gain.
“It is the energy sector that’s propping up the TSX today. That’s on the huge rally we are seeing in energy prices,” said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
U.S. crude oil futures settled up $2.12 at $47.62 a barrel after U.S. inventory data showed a surprisingly large drawdown in crude stocks.
Among the most influential gainers was Enbridge Inc , which rose 4.7 percent to C$59.10. The pipeline company’s stock has surged nearly 11 percent since announcing a major acquisition earlier this week.
Shares of Manulife Financial Corp rose 1.1 percent to C$17.92. Canada’s biggest life insurer, would consider share buy-backs and expects a “pause” in acquisition activity, Chief Executive Donald Guloien said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 6.51 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,803.26.
Still, nine of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower as the European Central Bank kept its already loose policy stance unchanged.
“Some people were hoping that the ECB would come in with more stimulus,” CMC Markets’ Cieszynski said.
“The bigger issue is that central banks are reaching the limits of what they can do in terms of stimulus ... I think that’s just starting to become more clear and dragging on stocks,” he said.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, fell 1.3 percent, while the financials group slipped 0.3 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp fell 2.2 percent to C$23.84, while spot gold was down 0.6 percent.
In domestic data, the value of Canadian building permits issued in July rose by a less-than-expected 0.8 percent from June, while housing starts fell more than expected in August compared with July.
Royal Bank of Canada declined 0.4 percent to C$81.06 and Toronto-Dominion Bank was down 0.5 percent at C$58.18.
TD’s CEO said on Wednesday that the bank is keen on acquisition opportunities, especially in its home market of Canada and in the United States.
CGI Group declined 3.7 percent to C$61.96 after the IT and business process services company announced the retirement of its CEO.
Industrials fell 0.2 percent, with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd down nearly 1 percent at C$199.16. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Grant McCool)