CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as market awaits Fed outcome

Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:08pm EST

* TSX falls 4.25 points, or 0.03 percent, to 13,180.16
    * Six of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Saputo rises after raising Warrnambool bid
    * Athabasca stumbles after releasing 2014 spending plans

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed
little changed on Tuesday as investors awaited the outcome of a
Federal Reserve meeting that could determine the future of the
U.S. central bank's bond buying program.
    Weakness in commodity prices, which kept energy and
gold-mining shares down, helped offset gains in the consumer
discretionary and information technology sectors.
    Fed officials began a two-day meeting to discuss the state
of the world's biggest economy and determine whether it is
strong enough to warrant the rollback in monetary stimulus.  
    "Investors are taking a wait-and-see approach until we see
the results of the Fed meeting tomorrow," said Youssef Zohny,
portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of
Richardson GMP.
    Investors are concerned about a market pullback in the event
of a stimulus rollback by the Fed, he added.
    A trimming in the U.S. central bank's asset purchases is
expected to weigh on interest-rate sensitive sectors such as
insurers, REITs and utilities.
    The Toronto equities market has recovered in part from a
sharp selloff last week when a stream of upbeat U.S. economic
data suggested that the Fed might have more reasons to begin
paring its bond purchases.
    "It's a coin toss. Nobody really knows what's going to come
out of the Fed meeting," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market
analyst at CMC Markets Canada. "It's one of those things that
could really go either way."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 4.25 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,180.16
on Tuesday, although a decline in the S&P 500 was slightly more
pronounced. 
    "It could be there is a bit more nervousness in the United
States," said Stenner's Zohny, who has been forecasting that
stabilization in commodity prices could help the TSX over the
long run.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    The consumer discretionary group advanced 0.6 percent, with
Magna International Inc rising 1.1 percent to C$84.55.
    The shares of information technology companies gained 1.7
percent, led by a 5.3 percent jump in Constellation Software Inc
. 
    With the price of bullion dropping 1.1 percent, shares of
gold miners gave back 0.3 percent. Goldcorp Inc lost 0.4
percent to C$22.57.
    In corporate news, Saputo Inc raised its bid for
Australia's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Holdings Co
, aiming to knock out its rivals with a final sweetened
offer. Saputo's stock rose 1.3 percent to trade at C$47.77.
 
    But shares of Athabasca Oil Corp slipped 2.6
percent, to C$6.40, after the oil producer said it planned to
spend 42 percent less in 2014 to develop its assets.
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