*TSX expected to open mixed following broad sell-off
*Oil prices remain in focus
*TransCanada Corp unveils expansion plans
TORONTO, July 16 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index is expected to open mixed on Wednesday, following the previous session’s hefty losses, as lingering fears over the health of the global economy and soft oil prices weigh on the market.
“Investor sentiment is extremely negative,” said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse. “You’re seeing that right across the board.”
TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) could be in the spotlight after it said on Wednesday it planned to spend $7 billion along with ConocoPhillips (COP.N) to expand its Keystone Pipeline partnership providing an additional 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2012.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE begins the day at 13,357.56, closing down 2.8 percent on Tuesday following a hefty intraday drop of more than 3 percent.
Markets around the world were battered as more economic news set off alarm bells, particularly a gloomy assessment of the U.S. financial sector from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, while the Bank of Canada held interest rates steady but flagged rising inflation.
Anxiety about the U.S. economy’s health raised questions about world economic growth and demand for crude as worries about demand for commodities also hurt the resource-heavy benchmark index.
Key inflation data on Wednesday showed that consumer prices grew at a faster-than-expected pace in June which could add to the negative sentiment, heightening inflation concerns amid sky-high energy costs.
But in this environment, investors could seek safer bets, Gorman said.
“I suspect one of the issues you’re going to see emerge here is some rotation from the cyclical to the less cyclical in the Canadian market,” said Gorman.
Oil and gas shares could see more losses as the price of oil sits flat around $138.60 a barrel, following a steep drop in the previous session on expectations that a weak U.S. economy would hit demand growth.
But gold miners could provide some support to the market as gold rose above $980 an ounce on the U.S. inflation data. ($1=$1 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Scott Anderson)