(Adds portfolio manager comment, updates prices to close)
* TSX ends up 16.43 points, or 0.11 percent, at 15,402.39
* Advancing stocks outnumber decliners by 1.4-to-1 ratio
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index eked out a small gain on Wednesday as miners and energy stocks rose with higher prices for oil and some base metals, while nuclear producer Cameco Corp sank on news of a scrapped contract.
The move broke a four-day fall for the index that saw it notch its lowest close this year on Tuesday, after coming within striking distance of an all-time high.
“I think that we’re groping our way through, trying to decide whether the market wants to go higher or if we’ve reached a short-term pause point,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments, adding that he thinks a pause more likely.
“The market now needs to see more clarity,” particularly around the economic policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, Hutcheon said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index settled up 16.43 points, or 0.11 percent, at 15,402.39. Advancers outnumbered decliners by a 1.4-to-1 ratio.
Its materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, gained 1 percent, with diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd up 3.8 percent and First Quantum Minerals Ltd adding 2.7 percent to C$16.86.
Hutcheon ascribed those gains to some investors betting on a strong U.S. fiscal spending plan that cranks up demand for basic materials.
“If people start to believe those things are going to happen they’re going to buy the stocks in anticipation,” he said.
The energy group gained 0.4 percent despite Cameco’s weight.
Cameco slumped 11.3 percent to C$14.70 after Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, scrapped a uranium supply contract worth about C$1.3 billion.
The Federal Reserve held U.S. interest rates steady but its relatively upbeat outlook suggested it was on track to tighten monetary policy this year, while global data also pointed to more robust activity.
Euro zone factories registered the fastest activity rate in nearly six years, China’s activity expanded for the sixth month and Japanese manufacturing growth was the fastest in almost three years.
The Canadian manufacturing sector grew at its fastest pace in over two years in January as new orders and production volumes picked up, data showed on Wednesday. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)