CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as oil-share drop dampens rise in financials

Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:43am EST

* TSX up 4.04 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,479.37
    * Six of the 10 main index sectors advance
    * Shoppers, Jean Coutu fall after court ruling
    * Manulife has biggest positive influence on market
    * Pretium Resources jumps 80 percent

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Friday with gains in financial shares
undermined by a decline in shares of energy companies after the
price of U.S. crude oil dropped. 
    The market was tracking a ruling by the Supreme Court of
Canada that upheld Ontario's ban on pharmacies selling
private-label prescription drugs, a move expected to hurt
drugstore chains. Shares of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp 
turned negative after the news. 
     The Toronto market was firmer for a second straight
session, however, and looked on track to record its third weekly
gain in a row. Support came from recent comments by Fed chief
nominee Janet Yellen and current Chairman Ben Bernanke that
assuaged investor fears of an immediate pullback in the Fed's
bond-buying program, which has sustained this year's strength in
global equity markets.
    "We think that the market will continue to sawtooth to
higher levels," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC
Funds.
    "(The Fed) won't do anything until they see the economy
definitely on track," he added. "The earliest we see any change
in their quantitative easing program would be anywhere from
three to six months."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 4.04 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,479.37,
after rising as high as 13,517.02, its highest level since
mid-2011, in morning dealings.
    Michael said appetite for Canadian equities was starting to
improve. The benchmark index is now up more than 8 percent this
year.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained
0.4 percent, with Bank of Montreal adding 0.7 percent
to C$74.17 and Manulife Financial Corp rising 1.5
percent to C$20.41. Manulife, the country's biggest insurer, had
the biggest positive influence on the index.
    Shares of energy producers slipped 0.5 percent. Suncor
Energy Inc gave back almost 1 percent to C$37.59, and
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd lost 1.2 percent to
C$34.84.
    Two of the country's major drugstore chains dropped.
Shoppers gave back 0.2 percent to C$59.02, and Jean Coutu Group
 fell 0.2 percent to C$18.40.
    In other company news, Pretium Resources Inc shot
up 80 percent to C$5.55 after the company released some
preliminary results from a sampling program at its gold project
in northern British Columbia.
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