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