TSX ends near flat as oil drop weighs on energy

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended nearly unchanged on Friday as several utilities jumped after Alberta agreed to pay them compensation and financial and railroad stocks climbed, while energy names fell as oil prices pulled back.

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as weakness in financial and energy shares offset gains in the materials sector. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

It was the second straight day of lower than usual trading volumes as U.S. markets closed early after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

“The TSX is holding up really well” considering the pullback in oil prices, said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.

U.S. crude oil futures settled $1.90 lower at $46.06, pressured by uncertainty over whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will reach an output deal after Saudi Arabia said it will not attend talks on Monday with non-OPEC producers to discuss supply cuts. [O/R]

The energy sector fell 1.7 percent, with Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO down 1.3 percent at C$41.96.

Still, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 0.24 points, or 0 percent, at 15,075.44.

For the week, the index advanced 1.4 percent, extending its rally since the U.S. election.

“What concerns me there is that we have markets that are really overbought,” said Cieszynski.

A potential recount of election results in some U.S. battleground states could provide the “trigger for a correction,” he added.

Eight of the index’s 10 main groups ended higher.

Financials and industrials gained ground, with Brookfield Asset Management Inc BAMa.TO gaining 1.3 percent to C$45.57 and Canadian National Railway Co CNR.TO climbing 1.2 percent to C$90.20.

Utility companies TransAlta Corp TA.TO and Capital Power Corp CPX.TO surged after Alberta agreed to pay them compensation for the capital they had invested in coal power plants that the province is phasing out.

TransAlta jumped 17.1 percent to C$7.33 and Capital Power gained 9.6 percent to C$23.44.

Shares in Amaya Inc AYA.TO advanced nearly 7 percent to C$20.10 after the online gaming company's former chief executive disclosed new funding details for his proposed offer to buy it.

Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO rose nearly 2 percent to C$20.04. The world's largest gold producer is reviewing the financial backing behind an approximately $1.3 billion bid for its stake in Australia's Kalgoorlie mine by Minjar Gold, two sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Gold prices steadied after falling to 9-1/2 month lows on Friday [GOL/], while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, was little changed.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman