February 24, 2016 / 10:36 PM / 4 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX pares losses on higher oil prices but bank earnings weigh

(Adds portfolio manager quote, details on materials stocks, updates prices)

* TSX ends down 23.17 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,740.27

* Five of the TSX’s 10 main groups end lower

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell to a one-week low on Wednesday as weaker-than-expected bank earnings dragged down financial stocks, but higher crude oil prices helped pare some of the losses, providing support for energy stocks.

The biggest movers on the index were bank stocks after Royal Bank of Canada posted quarterly earnings which fell short of analyst forecasts.

RBC, Canada’s second-largest lender by assets, was hurt by weakness in its insurance and capital markets businesses, while it also showed increasing signs of pain from the oil price crash and economic slowdown in Western Canada.

Its stock fell 2.6 percent to C$67.81, and Toronto-Dominion Bank declined 1.8 percent to C$51.23. The overall financials group fell 1.6 percent.

“We are starting to see where the loan losses on the oil patch fit in,” said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.

He expects more impaired loans to become loan losses, providing a headwind for the stocks

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 23.17 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,740.27. It hit its lowest since Feb. 16 at 12,506.05.

Five of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower.

The energy group rose 1.3 percent as crude oil prices reversed course after strong demand for gasoline offset worries about record high crude inventories.

U.S. crude prices settled at $32.15 a barrel, up 0.88 percent.

The shares of energy producer Encana Corp surged 22.7 percent to C$5.09 after the company cut its 2016 capital spending forecast to less than half its 2015 expenditure and said it would lay off 20 percent of its workforce this year.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, rose slightly, up 0.1 percent.

Fertilizer company Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc rose 3.1 percent to C$22.66. But Teck Resources Ltd fell 7.5 percent to C$7.67 and gold miners were mixed. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by W Simon and Diane Craft)

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