(Adds portfolio manager comment, updates prices to close)
* TSX ends down 8.95 points, or 0.06 percent, at 14,778.32
* Seven of the TSX’s 10 main groups fall
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended barely lower on Tuesday as heavyweight financial and industrial stocks weighed and gold miners benefited from safe-haven demand for precious metals ahead of next week’s U.S. election.
Shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc jumped 30.2 percent to C$31.18 after The Wall Street Journal reported the drugmaker is in talks to sell a stomach-drug business for about $10 billion.
Other influential gainers included Barrick Gold Corp , which jumped 4.5 percent to C$24.66, and Franco Nevada Corp, which advanced 2.7 percent to C$90.13.
Gold, silver and platinum rallied to one-month highs as concerns over the outcome of the U.S. election sparked losses in stocks and the dollar, prompting investors to seek out precious metals as a haven from risk.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index settled down 8.95 points, or 0.06 percent, at 14,778.32.
“The Canadian market seems like it is trying its best,” said Barry Schwartz, portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services, adding that outside of resource stocks, sentiment was influenced by Wall Street’s jitters.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metal miners as well as fertilizer companies, added 1.5 percent. The energy group gained 0.4 percent, even as crude prices fell.
“Oil was working, now it’s not. Gold was working, then it wasn’t, now it is again,” he said.
The heavily weighted financial services sector fell 0.5 percent, while industrials lost 0.9 percent, including losses of more than 1 percent for both major railroad stocks.
WestJet Airlines Ltd gained 4.3 percent to C$22.90 after Canada’s second-largest carrier reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it flew more passengers and expenses fell.
Thomson Reuters Corp said it would cut about 2,000 jobs worldwide, about 4 percent of its workforce, and take a fourth-quarter charge of $200 million to $250 million to streamline its business. Shares of the news and information company rose 4 percent to C$54.95.
Seven of the index’s 10 main industry groups fell, although decliners only outnumbered advancers at a 1.23-to-1 ratio overall.
The pace of Canadian economic growth slowed as expected in August, data from Statistics Canada showed, reinforcing expectations that the Bank of Canada will maintain its cautious stance. (Additional reporting by Fergal Smith, editing by G Crosse)