TSX ends lower as banks weigh, energy shrugs off oil fall

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended barely lower on Friday as bank stocks pulled back with lower bond yields after weak inflation data and energy stocks shrugged off an oil slide to notch gains while SNC-Lavalin Group Inc SNC.TO rose on an acquisition move.

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as weakness in financial and energy shares offset gains in the materials sector. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 11.08 points, or 0.07 percent, at 15,614.48. It gained 0.5 percent on the week.

The commodity-rich exchange was boosted by a 0.7 percent rise in energy stocks in the face of a sharp selloff in crude prices, with Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO up 0.7 percent to C$40.94 and Cenovus Energy CVE.TO adding 2.4 percent to C$14.18.

“In the near term we quite like energy,” said Mike Archibald, associate portfolio management at AGF Investments, pointing to expectations of solid earnings growth versus year-ago comparisons and recent outsized stock weakness versus oil’s fall.

“On the longer-term trends, where all the super majors seem to be leaving the Canadian marketplace, that does give us some cause for concern,” he added.

BP Plc BP.L is considering the sale of its stakes in three Canadian oil sands projects, sources told Reuters, following similar exits from ConocoPhillips COP.N and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L.

SNC-Lavalin gained 2.3 percent to C$54.27 after the engineering and construction company said on Thursday it would move ahead with a planned purchase of Britain's WS Atkins Plc ATKW.L for C$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion).

“It’s a good deal, certainly very accretive,” Archibald said.

Shares in Home Capital Group HCG.TO, Canada's biggest non-bank mortgage lender, rebounded 8.7 percent to C$19.25 after a steep decline on Thursday as the company said it would defend itself against allegations by regulators that it withheld information about fraud by mortgage brokers.

The broader financials group fell 0.5 percent as bond yields slipped. Canada’s annual inflation rate cooled more than expected in March, underscoring expectations that any interest rate hike would be a long way off.

Seven of the index’s 10 main groups fell, although advancers slightly outnumbered decliners overall.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Chizu Nomiyama