October 20, 2009 / 9:08 PM / in 8 years

CANADA STOCKS-Cameco surge keeps TSX near break-even mark

* TSX ends flat, down 0.27 of a point at 11,538.12

* Gold, oil prices off highs, Barrick, Suncor pressured

* Cameco jumps on force majeure reports at BHP mine

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed little changed on Tuesday, propped up by a late surge by Cameco Corp CCO.TO on the possibility of a jump in uranium prices after early strength in Barrick Gold ABX.TO and other gold miners dissipated on lower gold prices.

Most of the heavyweight action was in resource-based issues as prices for gold and oil, key drivers of the commodity-heavy TSX, came off recent highs. [GOL/] [O/R]

Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO topped all decliners, falling 2 percent to C$76.66, while fellow oil company Suncor SU.TO fell 0.7 percent to C$39.87. The price of oil retreated from a one-year high over $80 a barrel.

Gold slipped below $1,060 an ounce and drove Barrick down 1.1 percent to C$39.66, making it the third biggest heavyweight decliner on the index.

Offsetting the drag from oils and golds was uranium producer Cameco, the top gainer. It climbed more than 6 percent following a newspaper report of force majeure being declared at a major BHP Billiton BLT.L BHP.AX uranium mine. [ID:nN20447345]

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished off 0.27 of a point at 11,538.12 on mixed signals about the economic recovery, corporate profits, and warnings about the strength of the Canadian dollar.

“Overall, it just hasn’t been a very robust day for the Canadian market,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.

The TSX rose about 50 points early in the session after a handful of upbeat U.S. corporate earnings buoyed sentiment, but that was soon offset by disappointing U.S. economic data, which pulled the overall index about 40 points lower.

New construction of U.S. homes rose less than expected in September, while U.S. producer prices posted an unexpected decline, largely on falling energy prices. [ID:nN20424995]

“Weak economic data in turn weakens commodities and as a result, Canada is taking a pretty broad-based hit, but we’re not down a whole lot here,” said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Overall, five of the index’s 10 main sectors advanced, influenced by strong quarterly results from U.S. technology bellwether Apple AAPL.O and heavy machinery maker Caterpillar CAT.N, which helped to lure investors into equities.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO was up 0.6 percent at C$69.86.

Before the market opened, the Bank of Canada reiterated its conditional pledge to keep its overnight interest rate at 0.25 percent through mid-2010 and again cautioned that favorable economic developments were being undermined by the strength of the Canadian dollar. [ID:nN19231469]

$1=$1.05 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson

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