February 3, 2009 / 4:14 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-Toronto shares little changed; banks, energy slip

* Nine sectors in the red, materials lone sector higher

* TransCanada down 2.1 pct, ups dividend, profit falls

* Mega Brands jump 69 pct on Microsoft licensing deal (Adds details)

TORONTO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index extended losses for a fourth consecutive session on Tuesday after edging up at the open, as recently beaten-down energy and financial issues continued to falter.

The energy group fell 0.6 percent as the price of oil held near $40 a barrel. Financial issues slipped 0.43 percent as concerns continued about the economy and the future of the U.S. banking sector.

Materials were the lone sector of 10 main groups higher, up 1.5 percent. It was supported by gold issues, many of which were among the most influential movers, that rose alongside the price of the precious metal.

The financials, energy and materials make up about three-quarters of the index’s weighting and their influence usually drives the market.

“There are no major catalysts on the way up or on the way down.” said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada, in Montreal.

“Over the last 12 days we’ve been in a very tight range. The market is clearly looking for direction.”

At 10:45 a.m. (1545 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 14.08 points at 8,610.75. The index has not been above 9,000 since Jan. 16.

Among heavyweight issues pressuring the index were Research in Motion RIM.TO, down 2 percent at C$68.12, while Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) dropped 1.9 percent at C$20.07.

Advancers included Potash Corp POT.TO, up 2.6 percent at C$94.05, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) gained 1.1 percent to C$45.27.

TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) was also a major mover to the downside, falling 2.1 percent at C$32.69, after it boosted its dividend by 6 percent even though fourth-quarter profit fell from a year earlier.

Corporate results will be in focus for the next several weeks, but Campeau is waiting for the big banks to report, which happens a couple of weeks after the bulk of companies have posted numbers.

Canadian banks, although described as among the strongest in the world, have seen their shares fall, caught up in the negative sentiment that has encircled their international peers during the financial crisis.

“It’s all about forward guidance and financial skeletons,” said Campeau.

In individual company news, Mega Brands MB.TO jumped about 69 percent to 66 Canadian cents after the Canadian toymaker said it signed a global licensing agreement with Microsoft Game Studios (MSFT.O) to make construction toys for its Halo Wars game.

$1=$1.24 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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