TSX ends barely higher, industrial stocks led gains

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher on Wednesday for the fifth consecutive session, helped by industrial stocks such as construction company SNC-Lavalin, which jumped after winning an oil sands service contract.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

SNC-Lavalin rose 2.5 percent to C$58.55. It said a subsidiary was part of a joint venture that won a five-year deal to supply engineering and procurement services to an unidentified “prominent integrated oil company” in Alberta’s Athabasca region.

The industrial sector gained 0.6 percent overall, with Waste Connections Inc up 2.1 percent at C$105.89 and Canadian National Railway Co adding 0.5 percent to C$91.16.

“On the industrial theme, recent economic data in U.S. has supported that idea that the economy is picking up some steam,” said Manash Goswami, portfolio manager at First Asset Investment Management Inc.

“We’ve become a bit more constructive of late and have added a little more cyclical exposure than we’ve had in the past,” he said.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended the day up 12.93 points, or 0.08 percent, at 15,305.89.

Six of the index’s 10 main groups were in positive territory, while advancers outnumbered decliners by a 1.3-to-1 ratio.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd advanced 4.9 percent to C$666, while the broader financial sector barely gained.

Fairfax said on Sunday it had agreed to buy Swiss insurer Allied World for $4.9 billion in cash and stock.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc slipped 0.7 percent to C$44.72. The company is close to a deal to buy a majority stake in a $5 billion natural gas pipeline project in Peru, that country’s finance minister said.

The energy group climbed 0.6 percent, with pipeline company TransCanada Corp up 0.8 percent at C$61.85.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was “very supportive” of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline in their first conversation after the U.S. election.

Among the heaviest weight in the index was the world’s largest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp, which fell 1.2 percent to C$18.95. TD Securities cut its call on the stock to hold from buy and lowered its price target to $18 from $25.

Gold prices steadied above last week’s 10-1/2-month low. [GOL/]

Label and packaging maker CCL Industries Inc pulled back 1.8 percent to C$266.25 a day after jumping sharply on its plan to buy Innovia Group, which supplies the new UK plastic five-pound note, for around C$1.13 billion.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Frances Kerry and Richard Chang