*Tech shares rise as RIM climbs 8.5 pct
*Energy sector down 0.9 pct as oil falls to $35 a barrel
*U.S. offer of $17.4 bln auto aid seen as plus for market
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By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was slightly lower on Friday morning, see-sawing as weakness in commodity issues offset higher technology shares, which were up on strength in Research In Motion RIM.TO after it issued a rosier than expected outlook.
The information technology sector rose 3 percent, boosted by RIM RIMM.O after it delivered a bright outlook for BlackBerry sales over the holiday season. [ID:nN18411402] Shares of the company, a top net gainer, rose 8.5 percent to C$50.72.
“RIM results demonstrated that while, yes, they’re also seeing a slowdown it’s not as bad as people had feared,” said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.
“As a result, the stock is higher and people are taking that as good news that the downturn in spending on items like smartphones may not be as bad as expected.”
At 11:50 a.m. (1650 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 11.69 points, or 0.14 percent, at 8,413.66, with five of its 10 main sectors lower.
News of a $17.4 billion aid package by the U.S. government for the struggling auto industry, announced before the market opened [ID:nPEK94492], was seen as a longer-term positive for the market.
“If there’s one less source of weakness in the U.S. then it’s positive news for stocks in general and for resource stocks in particular,” Warne said.
“The logic is if the automakers are in better shape or at least not cutting back as much as they would need to if they didn’t get the money then it is a positive sign for the U.S. economy, which is a positive sign for world demand.”
Still, the picture in the energy and materials sectors was weak late on Thursday morning.
The big energy sector saw choppy action but was down 0.9 percent as oil fell to around $35 a barrel as concerns over the global economic slowdown continued to overshadow a record supply cut this week by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) fell 1.9 percent to C$53.49.
Heavily weighted stocks that pressured the market included fertilizer giant Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), down 2.8 percent at C$87.48, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which dropped 1.3 percent at C$39.97. The materials sector was down 1 pecent.
$1=$1.23 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway