CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as Fed program in focus; posts weekly drop

Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:50pm EST

* TSX rises 11.31 points, or 0.09 percent, to 13,125.70
    * Eight of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Telecom stocks are biggest drag on market
    * BlackBerry jumps after extending option deadline

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Friday as investors focused on what the U.S.
Federal Reserve will decide on its monetary stimulus program at
its policy meeting next week.
    Those worries weighed on the market in the past few days and
took the benchmark down 1.2 percent for the week.
    A recent wave of upbeat data has raised expectations that
the Fed might see enough strength in the U.S. economy to give it
the confidence to take its foot off the gas pedal.
    "It's a little bit of a stall as the markets seem to have no
direction," said Marcus Xu, portfolio manager at MY Capital
Management Corp, who sees an increasing possibility of a Fed
move to start trimming its bond buying in December or January.
    "Next week is big," he said, referring to an upcoming
two-day central bank policy meeting. "Nobody wants to take any
serious positions before that." 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 11.31 points, or 0.09 percent, at 13,125.70.
It is up this year, though trailing U.S. stocks.
    Xu sees "a strong year for Canadian equities" in 2014. "At
some point it's going to come back," he said.
    Market strategists expect solid growth in the Canadian
benchmark next year, a Reuters poll found, as the global
economic recovery takes hold and boosts the shares of natural
resource companies. 
    Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on
Friday.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, advanced
0.5 percent. Barrick Gold Corp climbed 1.6 percent to 
C$17.76, and Potash Corp gained 0.9 percent to C$32.66.
    Telecoms shares were hit the most, slipping 0.7 percent,
after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission said it would take a closer look at wireless
providers and their pricing practices. 
    Rogers Communications gave back 1.3 percent to    
   C$47.02, Telus Corp lost 0.9 percent to C$36.10 and
BCE Inc fell 0.8 percent to C$45.24. 
    Both the heavyweight financial and energy sectors were flat.
    In corporate news, BlackBerry Ltd, which recently
concluded a $1 billion convertible debt offering, said it has
agreed with its debtholders to extend an option deadline
attached to the deal, giving potential investors a chance to buy
up to a further $250 million in convertible debt. The stock
jumped 2.1 percent to C$6.42.
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