* Energy, materials higher as oil and gold climb
* BCE falls 3.4 pct as buyout collapses
* Gildan sinks 34 pct after results, ‘09 guidance (Adds quote, details)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed at midday on Thursday in choppy action as strength in commodity issues offset a slump in consumer goods shares on disappointing Gildan Activewear (GIL.TO) results and forecasts.
Undermining sentiment was the collapse of BCE Inc’s (BCE.TO) leveraged buyout deal and uncertainty over the fate of the bailout of the U.S. auto industry.
BCE fell 3.4 percent to C$22.24 after the C$34.8 billion buyout on the buyout’s collapse. [ID:nN11358392] The telecom sector was down 1.8 percent.
Gildan, a top net loser, fell 34 percent to C$11.73 after it posted sharply lower quarterly profit and provided a disappointing 2009 outlook. [ID:nBNG119073] The consumer discretionary group fell 3.7 percent.
“I think the Gildan numbers were a shock to people and the stock is off,” said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.
Andrew Pyle, wealth adviser at ScotiaMcLeod in Peterborough, Ontario, added concern over a recession in Canada is also hitting consumer stocks, which was underscored by Gildan’s results.
“Firms are starting to report not only weak performance in the current quarter but also very negative guidance going into 2009,” Pyle said.
“It’s going from expectation of problems in the sector to the realization of those problems. Gildan is just one example. There’s going to be a lot more.”
Shortly after 12:00 noon, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 10.61 points, or 0.12 percent, at 8,644.61 with five of its 10 main groups higher.
The big energy sector rose 1.4 percent as oil climbed above $46 a barrel [ID:nSIN361115], but individual names were mixed.
Oil company EnCana (ECA.TO) dropped 2.2 percent to C$57.85 after it slashed its 2009 capital budget, looking to weather falling commodity prices and economic uncertainty. [ID:nBNG190957]
Petro-Canada PCA.TO, which rose 2.6 percent to C$29.75, says it expects to cut spending next year due to lower oil prices and hard economic times. [ID:nN10346784]
On Wednesday, Nexen Inc NXY.TO, which has been the subject of recent takeover speculation, said it planned to cut its capital spending next year as it slows work on an oil sands project. [ID:nN10316986] Nexen stock rose 3 percent to C$22.41 on Thursday.
The resource-laden materials group was up 0.5 percent, while financials fell 1.4 percent.
Shares of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc ACEa.TO more than doubled in value to C$6.65 after it said on Wednesday it will wind up its operations and plans to distribute its Air Canada shares and other assets to shareholders. [ID:nN10340147]
Compared to recent weeks, swings in the key index were relatively subdued on Thursday, which could be attract investors back into the market, Pyle said.
“These modest movements are probably seen as more comfortable for the average investor than large swings,” he said. “The smaller these day to day changes, up or down, it’s chewing away at the volatility levels.” ($1=$1.22 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)