CANADA STOCKS-TSX slips as SNC Lavalin, banks offset U.S. jobs optimism
* TSX down 8.53 points, or 0.07 percent, at 12,817.99 * Seven of 10 main sectors decline * SNC Lavalin loses 6 percent after results, outlook * Niko gains 19 percent after receiving offers for assets By John Tilak TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Friday, with optimism following positive U.S. jobs data offset by a decline in financial stocks and in SNC Lavalin Group Inc after the engineering company reported quarterly results. SNC's shares dropped nearly 6 percent after its fourth-quarter earnings and 2013 outlook fell short of market expectations. The market initially received a boost after data showed U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February, pushing the unemployment rate to a four year-low and suggesting the economy is gaining traction despite the blow from higher taxes and deep government spending cuts. "The economy in the United States is definitely healing," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier. But investors are not rushing in to pour money into the market, he said. "There's some skepticism," he added. "One can argue that the scars of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 are still there." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 8.53 points, or 0.07 percent, at 12,817.99. The index briefly turned positive after opening lower. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red. Financials, the index's weightiest sector, were the biggest drag on the index, falling 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Canada , the country's biggest bank, was down 0.5 percent at C$62.39. Energy shares gave back 0.3 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd falling 0.8 percent to C$31.85. However, shares of Niko Resources Ltd rose 19 percent to C$7.19 said the oil and gas producer received significant offers for certain non-core assets. The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, gained 0.7 percent, with gold prices steady after declining earlier in the session. In Canada, the job market defied expectations to post strong gains in February, lending some credibility to predictions of an economic comeback this year after the slowest two quarters of growth since the 2008-09 recession.