TSX near flat as Mideast tensions boost oil, gold prices

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index was little changed on Wednesday as higher commodity prices amid geopolitical concerns boosted the shares of energy and materials companies, offsetting a decline in the heavily-weighted financials sector.

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

* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 4.24 points, or 0.03 percent, at 15,257.90.

* Stocks on Wall Street were pressured by possible U.S. military action against Syria and minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee that sparked worries about a more hawkish view on interest-rate increases.

* The TSX’s financials group, which accounts for more than one-third of the weight of the index, fell 0.8 percent.

* Six of the index’s 10 main industry groups ended lower.

* The energy group climbed 1.8 percent, while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.8 percent.

* U.S. crude oil futures settled 2 percent higher at $66.82 a barrel after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh. Conflict in the region triggers concern about crude flows across the wider Middle East.

* Gold futures rose 0.7 percent to $1,351.7 an ounce as investors bought safe-haven assets.

* The TSX posted five new 52-week highs and seven new lows.

* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was Torex Gold Resources Inc, which rose 20.1 percent, while the largest decliner was Prometic Life Sciences, down 7.1 percent.

Reporting by Fergal Smith, editing by G Crosse