CANADA STOCKS-TSX slips as SNC Lavalin, banks offset U.S. jobs optimism

Fri Mar 8, 2013 11:02am EST

* 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.
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