TSX steady as BlackBerry rally helps offset energy slump

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was little changed on Thursday, squeezing out only a modest gain, with a strong rally in BlackBerry Ltd and Bombardier Inc stocks offsetting a slide in energy issues.

Businessmen pass the Toronto Stock Exchange sing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

BlackBerry reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results on record sales at its closely watched software unit, sending shares surging 12.8 percent to C$13. BlackBerry was the most influential driver on the positive side for the index, and also helped lift the technology sector 0.8 percent.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index finished 8.59 points, or 0.06 percent higher, to 15,618.25, and has rallied some 2.7 percent this month.

“In general, the direction has been more constructive than many would have expected because ... September is statistically the worst month of the year,” said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director, institutional equity research, CIBC World Markets.

Six of the index’s 10 main groups gained some ground.

Bombardier rebounded from sharp losses in the previous session after the company was dealt major setbacks in its aerospace and rail units. Shares advanced 5.2 percent to C$2.21 as investors focused on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s warning to Boeing and potential deals in China. Mokhtari said much of the bad news was priced in earlier as well.

Overall industrial issues rose 0.1 percent.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc fell 4.8 percent to C$17.09, pushing the healthcare sector down 1.1 percent.

Metro Inc gave back some of yesterday’s rally following news it was in talks to buy pharmacy chain Jean Coutu for $3.6 billion. The grocer was down 1.4 percent at C$43.00, while Jean Coutu was off 0.7 percent at C$24.37. The consumer staples group gave up 0.1 percent.

Oil and gas companies finished 0.8 percent lower. Energy stocks lost steam and reversed course as U.S. crude fell 1.1 percent to settle at $51.56 a barrel after climbing as much as 1.5 percent.[O/R]

“Oil is still a good focus for a lot of Canadian PMs ... the complex is viewed as under-owned by a lot of managers,” said Mokhtari. “They probably will be adding to the energy sector as it comes under some profit-taking.”

Cenovus Energy Inc fell 1.4 percent at C$12.60, while Tourmaline Oil Corp gave back 2.7 percent at C$25.69.

The materials group rose 0.4 percent, while the heavily weighted financials group gained 0.1 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 156 to 87, for a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the upside.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by James Dalgleish