CANADA STOCKS-Ukraine fears pull TSX lower; Canadian Natural rises

Thu Mar 6, 2014 4:43pm EST

* TSX falls 32.25 points, or 0.23 percent, to 14,271.92
    * Five of 10 main index sectors decline
    * Canadian Natural climbs after results

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 6 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
declined on Thursday as concerns about instability in Ukraine
helped offset gains in shares of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd
 and the materials sector after the prices of some
commodities rose.
    A U.S. government report showed that the number of Americans
filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a
three-month low last week. Investors saw that as a positive
signal ahead of Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.
 
    The market also digested news of Crimea's parliament voting
to join Russia and its Moscow-backed government setting a
referendum on the decision within 10 days. 
    The Toronto market, which is up about 4.8 percent this year,
took a bit of a breather after three straight daily gains.
    "I'm looking at a market that is very comfortable where it
is," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at
ScotiaMcLeod. "We're sitting in quite a good spot, and most
investors seem to be satisfied."
    "As long as things stay economically where they are, we will
have modest growth in our market," he said, adding that he
expects the TSX to end the year at the 15,000 mark. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 32.25 points, or 0.23 percent, at
14,271.92. Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the
red.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
declined. Royal Bank of Canada gave back 0.7 percent to
C$71.87, and Bank of Montreal lost 0.4 percent to
C$72.29.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, showed
the strongest gain, rising 0.6 percent.
    Potash Corp added 0.8 percent to C$38.70, and Teck
Resources Ltd climbed 2.7 percent to C$25.26.
    In corporate news, oil producer Canadian Natural reported a
rise in quarterly profit, and the stock advanced 0.3 percent to
C$40.81. 
    SNC-Lavalin Group Inc's shares dropped 4.1 percent,
to C$46.39, after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings
and forecast a profit for 2014 that missed market expectations.
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