CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as financials offset by volatile commodities

Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:57pm EST

* TSX rises 3.01 points, or 0.02 percent, to 13,478.34
    * Six of 10 main index sectors decline
    * 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 the financial sector
offset by declines in energy and material shares after commodity
prices had a volatile session. 
    Gold bullion showed little signs of stabilizing after a
choppy week, with both the price of the precious metal and
shares of gold producers hitting four-month lows. 
    The Toronto market hit a two-year high earlier in the day. 
    Investors also tracked 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. 
    Recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and
Janet Yellen, the Fed vice chair who is the nominee to succeed
Bernanke, have assuaged investor fears of an immediate pullback
in the U.S. central bank's bond-buying program, which has
sustained this year's strength in global equity markets.
    Even so, some investors have started to urge caution about
the run-up in stock prices.
    It would be prudent for investors to build cash positions
and sell stocks whose valuations might be stretched, said Lorne
Steinberg, president of Lorne Steinberg Wealth Management, who
pointed to the jump in shares of the Canadian financial
companies as an example.
    "It's going to be a lot tougher to make money in 2014," he
said. "Valuations have risen much faster than revenues and
earnings, which is not a long-term sustainable situation."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 3.01 points, or 0.02 percent, at 13,478.34,
after rising as high as 13,517.02, its highest level since
mid-2011.
    Despite rising more than 8 percent this year, the benchmark
Canadian index is still trailing gains made by U.S. stock
markets.
    "Looking out to 2014, the Canadian stock market may still
underperform other stock markets," Steinberg said. He expects
volatile commodity prices to weigh.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on
Friday.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gained
0.2 percent, after having advanced almost 22 percent this year.
    Manulife Financial Corp rose 1.3 percent, to
C$20.37, and had the biggest positive influence on the index.
Bank of Montreal added 0.5 percent to C$74.01.
    Shares of energy producers slipped 0.2 percent, hurt by a
drop in the price of U.S. crude oil. Canadian Natural Resources
Ltd lost 1.3 percent to C$34.82.
    Gold-mining stocks shed 1 percent, with Barrick Gold Corp
 giving back 3.3 percent to C$17.21 and Goldcorp Inc
 dropping 0.8 percent to C$24.31. 
    Two of the country's major drugstore chains dropped.
Shoppers gave back 0.3 percent to C$58.92, and Jean Coutu
 fell 1 percent to C$18.24.
    In other company news, Pretium Resources Inc shot
up about 80 percent to C$5.53 after the company released some
preliminary results from a sampling program at its gold project
in northern British Columbia.
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