May 22, 2008 / 8:36 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks end flat, hampered by oils, BCE

(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

*Index ends little changed while energy shares fall

*BCE dives after court ruling raises fears over its buyout

*Bargain-hunting in financial shares gives support

TORONTO, May 22 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index finished nearly flat on Thursday, pressured by weak energy shares, while BCE Inc (BCE.TO) was hammered by concerns that a court decision could put an end to its buyout.

Shares of BCE, Canada’s biggest telecom company, dived C$4.48, or 12.1 percent, to C$32.64 after a Quebec court backed debtholders who said that the buyout deal is unfair to them. The transaction, worth C$34.8 billion ($35.2 billion), is the world’s largest leveraged buyout.

BCE stock was halted by the Toronto Stock Exchange in the afternoon pending clarification of the status of orders. The exchange said there had been a service disruption for about 45 minutes in the morning, which caused “data integrity concerns”.

It had been the most actively traded stock by far at 26.3 million shares.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE eked out a tiny gain of 1.99 points, or 0.01 percent, to 14,792.36 with all but three of its 10 sectors drifting higher.

Energy companies tumbled 1.1 percent as oil prices retreated after climbing to another record over $135 a barrel. On Bay Street, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was down C$1.83, or 1.8 percent, at C$102.10, and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) gave up C$1.14, or 1.9 percent, to C$59.28.

Financials provided the benchmark with some support, rallying back from three days of declines as investors looked for bargains. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was up C$2.00, or 2.8 percent, at C$73.51, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rose C$1.39, or 2.1 percent, to C$68.49. Overall, the sector rose 1.5 percent.

Shares of gold producers lost some luster, off 0.9 percent, with Goldcorp (G.TO) slipping C$1.07, or 2.5 percent, to C$41.29, and Kinross Gold (K.TO) down 55 Canadian cents, or 2.6 percent, at C$20.49.

But the larger materials group managed to inch up 0.2 percent, helped by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, which rose C$4.80, or 2.5 percent, to C$196.80. ($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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