* TSX ends down 0.24 percent at 13,680.29
* Suncor flat after quarterly profit triples
* Gold miners are main drag (Adds details, quote)
By Leah Schnurr
OTTAWA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed lower on Wednesday, ending a three-day winning streak, as investors saw little reason to push the market higher and sought the safety of the sidelines as tensions heightened in Egypt.
Analysts said the market was due for consolidation a day after the S&P/TSX composite had its highest close since August 2008.
“We saw the risk trade come rolling in yesterday. Those risk-on, risk-off plays tend to be very volatile, so today investors are taking a slightly more cautious tone,” said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
In Egypt, supporters of President Hosni Mubarak assaulted demonstrators in Cairo after the army told the protesters to go home. Equities have seen pressure from worries the protests could spread to other Middle East countries, though Canadian energy stocks often benefit from higher oil prices. For details, see [ID:nLDE71100I]
Canada’s biggest energy company, Suncor (SU.TO), ended flat after climbing more than 3 percent early in the day, after it said its quarterly profit almost tripled, helped by increased production in the Alberta oil sands. The stock closed unchanged at C$41.61. [ID:nN01139180]
“We’ve yet to see Canadian companies begin reporting in a big way and I think that might be the next catalyst to move markets one way or the other,” Picardo said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 32.33 points, or 0.24 percent, at 13,680.29. Of its 10 main groups, only the tech sector ended up.
Shares of gold miners were among the biggest losers as gold prices fell following encouraging U.S. economic data. The TSX’s materials group, home to gold miners, was down 0.3 percent. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) shed 1.9 percent to C$46.94, while Goldcorp (G.TO) fell 1.2 percent to C$40.32.
Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse in Toronto, said that after last year’s strong run in the metals and mining sectors, investors were starting to look elsewhere for better opportunities .
“At this point I do think you’ve got a number of managers looking at sectors that it is fair to say represent better value by most metrics,” said Gorman.
On the upside, First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) rose 1.2 percent to C$123.71 after it said it plans to raise annual output at Zambia’s largest copper mine to 400,000 tonnes a year by 2015 from 250,000 tonnes. [ID:nLDE7110QM]
Bombardier (BBDb.TO) added 1.2 percent to C$5.98 after UBS raised its price target to C$7 from C$6.50. [RCH/CA]
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr)