CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops on commodity weakness, off two-year high
* TSX falls 24.51 points, or 0.18 percent, to 13,458.06 * Six of 10 main index sectors decline * Materials drop 1.3 percent, energy stocks down 0.8 percent By John Tilak TORONTO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Monday as weak commodity prices weighed on resource shares, offsetting upbeat sentiment spurred by China's reform plans and by signs of continuing U.S. Federal Reserve support for its stimulus program. Weakness in gold and oil prices overshadowed a rise in the financial sector and limited gains of a market that hit a two-year high earlier in the session. With no major news hitting investors' screens over the weekend, the focus remained on Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen's comments last week that she would support the U.S. central bank's stimulus program and China's indication that it will allow the market to play an influential role in the world's second-biggest economy. Yellen has been nominated to be the Fed's next chief. Some investors were skeptical about whether the commodities-exporting Toronto market could benefit from China's reforms. "China is less materials/import-centric as it is a consumer growth story now," said Diana Avigdor, portfolio manager and head of trading at Barometer Capital Management. "We're still not bullish on materials," she added. "Canada is associated with the commodities market. So it hurts when that doesn't work." The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 24.51 points, or 0.18 percent, at 13,458.06, after touching 13,512.47, its highest level since July 2011. "A lot of people have reassessed their asset allocation," Avigdor said, noting that Canadian investors were starting to favor stocks over bonds. "There is more confidence in investing in equities." A government report showed foreign investment in Canadian securities strengthened in September from August as acquisitions of stocks surged to the highest level since September 2009, offsetting the divestment in equities over the first eight months of the year. The TSX, despite gains in the last several weeks, is trailing the rise of U.S. stock indexes this year due to volatility in commodity prices. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on Monday. Financial shares advanced 0.5 percent, with some insurance companies making strong gains. Manulife Financial Corp jumped 1.8 percent to C$19.86 and Sun Life Financial Inc climbed 1.5 percent to C$37.43. But both of the index's heavyweight natural resource groups slipped along with commodity prices, with the materials sector down 1.3 percent and energy stocks losing 0.8 percent. Miner Barrick Gold Corp gave back 2.5 percent to C$18.43, and competitor Goldcorp Inc declined 0.8 percent to C$25.20. In corporate news, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd will buy a majority stake in privately held Keg Restaurants Ltd, which owns more than 100 steakhouse restaurants. Keg Restaurants said the transaction will benefit The Keg Royalties Income Fund, which gained almost 0.6 percent to C$16.26. Fairfax shares fell 0.2 percent to C$426.88. Bombardier Inc failed to announce any sales for its CSeries jet in the opening days of the Dubai Airshow, extending a five-month drought in demand for the all-new model as larger rivals clinched multibillion dollar deals. Shares of the plane maker were up 0.2 percent, at C$4.65.
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