TSX dips as gold stocks drag, index still rises 1.7 percent for week

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged lower on Friday, slightly reducing this week’s gains as gold stocks dragged, while higher oil prices supported energy stocks.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The index rose 1.7 percent over the course of the week and has rallied 20 percent since hitting a nearly 3-1/2-year low in January.

It touched a nearly six-month high on Wednesday at 13,971.83, just short of the 14,000 psychological threshold.

“It remains to be seen if the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) has the momentum to punch through that level (14,000) on the upside,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities.

The TSX’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 7.22 points, or 0.05 percent, at 13,873.98. Seven of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.8 percent.

It included a 3.2 percent drop in Goldcorp Inc to C$21.65, while Barrick Gold Corp fell 1.8 percent to C$20.41.

The consumer, technology and telecom groups all fell.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc was down 2.4 percent at C$54.56, while CGI Group Inc declined 1.8 percent to C$60.51 and BCE Inc fell 0.5 percent to C$58.48.

We have been seeing some rotation out of the names that have done well as investors get into those sectors, such as energy, that have been lagging, said Picardo.

The energy group climbed 1.4 percent. It included a 3.1 percent gain for Cenovus Energy Inc to C$19.24, while Suncor Energy Inc was up 0.7 percent at C$36.30.

U.S. crude prices settled at $43.73 a barrel, up 1.27 percent, as market sentiment turned more upbeat amid signs a persistent global supply glut may be easing. [O/R]

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc rose 7.3 percent to C$45.57. The drugmaker is seeking to appoint Joseph Papa, Perrigo Co Plc’s boss, as its new chief executive officer, a source familiar with the matter said.

Canadian retail sales rose unexpectedly in February, the second consecutive monthly increase, and brightened the outlook for an economy that is on track to rack up strong growth in the first quarter.

However, improvement in the economy has been factored into the market after such a strong rally since January, said Picardo.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler