April 8, 2009 / 2:05 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat as lower oil undercuts insurer rally

* TSX up 5 points at 8,829.85

* Insurance stocks help underpin index

* Lower energy shares crimp gains

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index straddled the break-even level on Wednesday morning as financial shares got a boost from news of U.S. government aid for life insurers, offsetting the drag of lower oil prices.

The heavily weighted financial sector rose 0.8 percent and kept the market from skidding after the U.S. Treasury said it plans to extend the Troubled Asset Relief Program to certain life insurers. [ID:nN07494064]

Insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) was up 2.7 percent at C$16.61, while Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) was up 3 percent at C$24.50.

“Financial stocks are taking an upbeat mode here off the indication that there might be more TARP money going to some insurers,” said Bruce Latimer, trader at Dundee Securities.

“But we’ve got a short week, volumes have been light the last few days and I don’t expect that to change.”

A drop in the price of oil pushed the energy sector down 0.8 percent and spoiled the chance of a broader rally.

Shares of EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) were down 1.5 percent at C$52.07, while Talisman Energy TLM.TO shares dropped 1.6 percent to C$14.48.

At 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 5.10 points at 8,829.85. Seven of its 10 sectors were higher.

The TSX will be closed on Friday for the Easter holidays.

$1=$1.24 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway

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