CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat in thin holiday volume; energy offsets golds
By Solarina Ho TORONTO, April 21 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday in quiet Easter holiday trading as softer bullion prices weighed on gold miners, offsetting an otherwise mostly positive market. Markets in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia were closed for Easter. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was off 5.94 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,494.56 late morning after trading flat earlier. Seven of the index's 10 main sectors were higher. "Keep in mind half the world's away on holiday, Easter Monday ... A lot of the players are not around," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "In this very thin marketplace, you could get some fairly volatile and dramatic moves just depending on if there's a motivated buyer or if there's a motivated seller." Gold prices slipped to a two-and-a-half-week low on sharp outflows from the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, a stronger U.S. dollar, and technical selling. The heavily-weighted materials group, home to gold mining firms, was down 0.8 percent, led by Barrick Gold Corp, which fell 2.7 percent to C$19.27. Talks between Barrick and Newmont Mining Corp over a potential merger have hit a snag, but sources close to the situation say the companies remain keen to reach a deal and discussions are likely to resume. Crude prices were marginally higher and helped the energy group advance 0.03 percent, but Transcanada Corp capped the limited gains with a 3.3 percent drop to C$49.62 as several analysts downgraded the stock. Canadian National Railway was the most influential positive mover on the TSX. Canada's biggest rail company was up 0.9 percent at C$63.03 ahead of its first quarter results, due on Tuesday. The overall industrials group was up 0.2 percent. The hefty financials group advanced 0.2 percent, helped by slightly positive moves by three of Canada's biggest banks. Royal Bank of Canada was up 0.4 percent at C$73.68, Toronto Dominion Bank was up 0.4 percent at C$51.97, while Bank of Montreal climbed 0.5 percent to C$76.63, to round up the four most influential stocks on the index. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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