(Adds comments, details, official closing numbers)
* Index closes flat as financials sell off
* Energy shares rise as oil futures add 2 percent
By Wojtek Dabrowski
TORONTO, June 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index finished flat on Wednesday as investors sold off financial shares, offsetting stronger energy issues, which gained on higher commodity prices.
Three of the 10 main index groups finished higher, including the heavyweight energy and materials sectors, which added 1.03 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
However, financials were a drag, shedding 1.14 percent, as investors found reason to worry after profits plunged at U.S. investment banking giant Morgan Stanley (MS.N).
“The financials are sort of struggling here, so those that want to invest in the market are putting money into the proven winners,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, referring to shares of oil firms and gold producers.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE eked out a gain of 4.30 points, or 0.03 percent, to close at 15,073.13.
Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities, said investors aren’t ready to plunge back into financials as fallout from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and a slower economy continue to weigh.
“I think investors are going to need to see a few quarters of results before they jump on the bandwagon,” he said.
Meanwhile, energy firms gained as oil futures rose 2 percent to settle at $135.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid news that Chevron (CVX.N) workers in Nigeria could strike shortly.
As well, the White House said it didn’t expect an announcement on increased oil production at an upcoming Saudi-hosted summit of producers and consumers.
$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson