(Adds investor comment, updates prices to close)
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, March 21 Canada's main stock index
ended slightly lower on Friday but many energy stocks gained as
crude prices rose on the possibility of Russian supply
disruptions, while retailers benefited after regulatory approval
for a major takeover in the sector.
The otherwise broad decline capped weekly gains at 0.75
percent in cautious end-of-week trade.
"Energy stocks have been the focus really since the Russian
annexation" of Crimea, said John Ing, president of Maison
Cenovus Energy jumped 2 percent to C$30.55 and
Talisman Energy Inc gained 1.4 percent to C$11.34, as
fresh Western sanctions on Russia renewed fears of a supply
disruption from the world's second-largest oil producer.
Investors took some solace earlier from domestic data that
showed February inflation within the central bank's target range
and retail sales that bounced back in January.
"It's a sigh of relief on the inflation and retail numbers,
which were a little higher," said Irwin Michael, portfolio
manager at ABC Funds, of a minor morning rally.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended the session down 26.07 points, or 0.18 percent,
Heavyweight banks and railways that had risen earlier in the
week pared those gains to provide much of the weight.
Goldcorp Inc and Barrick Gold Corp, two of
the world's largest producers of the precious metal, ended
slightly lower after strong starts even as bullion gained.
"Gold is trying to mount a rally, it was a muted rally,"
Maison's Ing said.
Diversified miner Teck Resources notched up a 3.1
percent gain to C$23.68.
Goldcorp and other gold miners had dipped earlier in the
week as anxiety eased over the Ukraine crisis, which had added
to gold's safe-haven appeal.
Grocery store chain Loblaw Cos Ltd jumped 1.7 percent
to C$47.01 after a competition watchdog approved its C$12.4
billion ($11 billion) bid for pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart
Shares in Shoppers rose 0.9 percent to C$61.18.
Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp gained 5.5 percent to
C$19.09. Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying the Latin
American oil producer was considering its strategic options.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by James Dalgleish and