December 24, 2010 / 3:43 PM / 8 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX tilts higher in thin pre-holiday trade

*TSX up 0.1 percent at 13,384.52

*Five of 10 index sectors higher (Updates with details, commentary)

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock drifted slightly higher in quiet trade on Friday morning as gains in energy and financials offset losses among miners at the start of a shortened session ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The index’s energy shares rose 0.3 percent as European oil prices hovered at their highest levels in more than two years, supported by cold weather across the globe and renewed appetite for risk assets.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) advanced 0.4 percent to C$38.46, and EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) rose 0.4 percent to C$29.10.

“Energy keeps chugging along. It’s certainly been the feature the last little while,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities, pointing to a rise in the price of oil to over $90 a barrel.

The Toronto market closes at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday in preparation for Christmas and will reopen on Dec. 29 for another short week ahead of the New Year holiday.

There was no direction from the U.S. stock market, which was closed on Friday.

“Everybody’s mind is elsewhere,” Kinsey said. “It’s going to be very, very, very quiet. It’ll start to dry up after the first bunch of tickets are done because everyone wants to go early.”

However, Kinsey noted that Friday was the last day for tax-loss selling in Canada, which could be important for investors who have left their positioning until the last minute.

At 10:18 a.m. (1518 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 13.32 points, or 0.1 percent, at 13,384.52. Five of the index’s 10 main groups were faring better, including financials up 0.2 percent.

The index is up about 14 percent for the year, and is trading at its highest levels since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The biggest gainer in percentage terms was Western Financial WES.TO. Its shares soared 67 percent to C$4.08 after Quebec-based Desjardins Financial Group said late Thursday it would buy the financial services firm for C$386.6 million ($383 million) as it pushes into Western Canada. [ID:nN24177444]

Among the decliners, heavyweight materials shares were down 0.2 percent despite strong metal prices. Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) was off 0.3 percent at C$45.06 and Teck Resources TCKb.TO lost 0.4 percent to C$58.20.

$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway

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