* Index ends down 4.65 points, 0.03 percent, at 14,205.72
* Drop in banks offsets gains in telecom and resource shares
* Agrium shares rise after quarterly results
By John Tilak
TORONTO, Feb 21 Canada's main stock index eased
to its first loss in two weeks on Friday as declining bank
stocks offset gains in telecom and resource-related companies.
Earlier in the day the index had touched its highest point
in nearly three years as bullish U.S. data showing that
manufacturing activity recorded its fastest growth in nearly
four years in February helped drive gains.
The index also got a lift from fertilizer maker Agrium Inc
, whose shares jumped a day after the company reported
Adding to the upward momentum, telecom companies Telus Corp
and BCE Inc got a bounce a day after it was
revealed they paid much less than rival Rogers Communications
Inc in a government auction of wireless airwaves.
Telus was up 2.2 percent at C$38.78, and BCE added 0.5
percent to C$47.82.
But after 12 sessions of gains, the market ended up taking a
breather. Bank of Nova Scotia was the single biggest
weight on the index, down 1 percent at C$63.32. Royal Bank of
Canada, the country's largest lender, slipped 0.3 percent to
"We're getting a little overbought. I wouldn't be surprised
if the market paused here a little bit," said Rick Hutcheon,
chief investment officer at RKH Financial, adding that the
overall outlook still looks positive.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended down 4.65 points, or 0.03 percent, at 14,205.72.
It gained 1.1 percent on the week, its third straight weekly
"The market is coming to the realization that things are
trending well in the U.S.," said Patrick Blais, a portfolio
manager and managing director at Manulife Asset Management.
"People are seeing that things are progressing in the right
Blais said he expects the TSX to end the year about 5 to 10
percent higher than current levels.
The recent rally has been fueled by a jump in materials
shares, which have rebounded sharply after a major selloff last
In the materials group on Friday, Agrium rose 2.2 percent to
C$100.80. The company reported a 72 percent decline in quarterly
profit on Thursday, but its results were in line with market
Overall, the materials sector, which includes mining
stocks, slipped 0.1 percent on Friday. First Quantum Minerals
Ltd lost 1.8 percent to C$21.21, after the miner
reported a lower quarterly profit on Thursday due to weaker
Energy shares advanced despite weaker oil prices. Canadian
Natural Resources Ltd was up 0.6 percent at C$41.15.