TSX clings to modest gain as consumer-related stocks rise

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock edged higher on Friday, led by consumer-related stocks, while U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline gave TransCanada Corp TRP.TO a boost before some gains were pared.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 9.06 points, or 0.06 percent, at 15,442.67.

It was the second straight day of gains for the index after Canada’s government on Wednesday held off from raising taxes on investors in its budget.

Modest gains for the TSX on Friday came as stocks on Wall Street pared losses after Republicans pulled their bill to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

Still, the index dipped 0.3 percent for the week. It hit on Wednesday a three-month low intraday at 15,241.55.

“There is further near term downside to come,” said Robert McWhirter, president and portfolio manager at Selective Asset Management Inc.

He expects a downturn in copper and oil to weigh on the commodity heavy TSX through June.

Together, the energy and materials groups account for more than 30 percent of the index’s weight.

TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels of heavy crude per day from Canada’s oil sands to U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

The pipeline company’s shares ended up 0.1 percent at C$61.82, while the overall energy group also gained 0.1 percent as oil prices rose.

Prices of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, were boosted by hopes that an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries output cut was beginning to balance a long-oversupplied market.

U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled 27 cents higher at $47.97 a barrel.

Six of the index’s 10 main groups advanced, including a 0.7 percent gain for consumer discretionary stocks and a 0.4 percent gain for consumer staples, while the heavyweight financials group ended little changed.

Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO said its CSeries will soon become the largest commercial aircraft capable of landing at London City Airport, a feat the Canadian planemaker expects will whet buyer interest at a time of sluggish market demand for new jets. nL2N1H025P

Its shares rose 0.5 percent to C$2.02.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.2 percent.

Gold futures GCc1 rose 0.1 percent to $1,248.3 an ounce, while copper prices CMCU3 declined 0.4 percent to $5,804.15 a tonne. [GOL/][MET/L]

Canada’s closely watched core measures of inflation remained tame in February, indicating little pressure for a Bank of Canada interest rate hike.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Grant McCool