CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as U.S. data offset by China fears, Empire Co drop

Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:13am EDT

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* TSX down 14.15 points, or 0.10 percent, at 14,304.85
    * Seven of the 10 main index sectors decline
    * Empire Co drops after posting quarterly results

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 13 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Thursday as bullish economic signals from the
United States were undermined by data from China and a decline
in shares of grocery chain operator Empire Co Ltd.
    Empire dropped about 3 percent, making it one of the biggest
heavyweight decliners, after the operator of the Sobeys grocery
chain posted a fall in quarterly earnings late on Wednesday.
 
    In China, growth in investment, retail sales and factory
output slipped to multiyear lows, reinforcing concerns raised by
a recent wave of weak economic figures in the world's
second-biggest economy. 
    Data showing that the number of Americans filing new claims
for unemployment benefits dropped to a three-month low last week
failed to lift investor sentiment. 
    Despite Thursday's modest decline, the Toronto stock
market's benchmark index is up about 5 percent this year,
increasing concern among some investors that its runup could
result in a correction. 
    "I'm going to start taking profits in the next two to three
weeks. Am I going to be bailing out totally? No," said Keith
Richards, portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend
Wealth Management.
    "You stick to the program, let the market climb the wall of
worry and when you see the market start to roll over, then you
can get out," he added.
    Richards expects the Canadian market to pull back in the
near term before reaching the 15,000 mark by the end of the
year.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was down 14.15 points, or 0.10 percent, at 14,304.85.
    Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
declined, with Bank of Nova Scotia losing 0.3 percent
to C$64.90 and Bank of Montreal slipping 0.4 percent to
C$73.
    The energy group added 0.2 percent, supported by a gain in
the price of U.S. crude oil. Talisman Energy was up 0.8 percent
at C$10.99.
    Empire fell to C$68.16 and was the biggest percentage
decliner on the index.
    Shares of Cameco Corp advanced 3.9 percent to
C$27.96 after the uranium miner said it had begun producing ore
at its often-delayed Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan.
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