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