* TSX ends down 11.43 points at 12,664.81
* Six of 10 main groups lower
* Ottawa’s decision on BHP-Potash deal in focus (Adds details)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended slightly lower on Monday with investors cautious ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections and the start of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting the same day.
Gold miners helped pull down TSX index, with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) dropping 0.61 percent to C$48.82, and Goldcorp (G.TO) falling 1 percent to C$45.09 as U.S. gold futures ended cautiously lower before Tuesday’s U.S. events. [GOL/]
Financials also got caught up in the mood, down 0.5 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) declining 0.4 percent to C$54.14, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) off 0.1 percent at C$73.76.
Gains in energy issues kept the market from falling deeper in the red as the price of oil rose following comments by Saudi Arabia about consumers tolerating oil prices as high as $90 a barrel, as well as strong U.S. and Chinese manufacturing data. [O/R] [ID:nN01133257] [ID:nTOE6A001P]
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was up 1.1 percent at C$33.03, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained 0.11 percent to C$37.17. The broader energy group rose 0.4 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day down 11.43 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,664.81. Six of the index’s 10 main groups were lower, pulling it from the day’s peak of 12,759.06, its highest level since Sept. 22, 2008.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 1.20 points lower, or 0.16 percent, at 726.89.
In Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Republicans will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Democrats. [ID:nUSVOTE]
If they do, North American equities could see a bit of a bounce, said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada, in Montreal.
“Republicans are considered more market friendly,” said Campeau. “It’s always a question to know what’s priced in the market already.”
Campeau added most market players were largely “waiting on the side” ahead of the election, as well as Wednesday’s conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting.
Most leading economists expect the Fed to buy between $80 billion and $100 billion worth of assets per month under a new quantitative easing program — widely referred to as “QE2” — to bolster the struggling economy, according to a Reuters poll. [FED]
Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse, said all eyes are on the Fed.
“I think the much bigger story is the one that follows on Wednesday when the Fed comes out with its pronouncements about exactly what it intends to do with respect to QE2,” he said.
“This may well be situation where having bought on the anticipation of this you see some selling on the news. We don’t know.”
Elsewhere, Potash Corp POT.TO, up 0.8 percent at C$148.70, was in focus as investors awaited the Canadian government’s ruling on BHP Billiton’s $39 billion hostile takeover bid for the fertilizer giant. Ottawa has said it would meet a deadline of midnight on Wednesday for its decision. [ID:nLDE6A00HD]
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)