TSX nudges higher ahead of U.S.-China meeting, jobs data

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index climbed modestly on Thursday, helped by energy and financial stocks, but the market was mostly subdued ahead of a big meeting between the United States and China, and employment data due on Friday.

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

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 54.19 points, or 0.35 percent, to close at 15,697.18. Of the index's 10 main groups, eight were higher.

“Everyone is waiting for Trump’s meeting with the Chinese leader, but more importantly, tomorrow’s a big day because people are awaiting the employment numbers,” said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds, referring to the meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that kicks off on Thursday evening and the release of both Canadian and U.S. jobs data.

“No great shakes - there doesn’t appear to be too many movers here. It’s just very quiet, very subdued,” Michael said.

The most influential stock on the index was Enbridge Inc ENB.TO, which finished 1.7 percent higher at C$56.60. TransCanada Corp TRP.TO, which won U.S. approval for the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline last month, rose 1.0 percent to C$62.66. The overall energy group was up 0.5 percent.

Financial stocks, which make up just over a third of the index's weight, gained 0.3 percent, with Canada's largest bank, Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO, adding 0.8 percent to C$97.81, and Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO up 0.8 percent to C$78.73.

Offsetting gains, was a 0.5 percent fall to C$25.87 by Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO. The Canadian miner announced on Thursday that China's Shandong Gold Mining Co Ltd 600547.SS will pay $960 million for a 50 percent stake in Barrick's Veladero gold mine in Argentina.

Raging River Exploration Inc RRX.TO dropped 6.2 percent to C$9.25 amid a report that it has hired an adviser to explore a possible sale.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, eked out a 0.2 percent gain, with Teck Resources Ltd's TECKb.TO 3 percent rise to C$31.98 helping offset some of the subgroup's declines.

In corporate earnings news, Corus Entertainment Inc CJRb.TO reported a lower-than-expected profit, hurt by higher costs. Shares were down 2.1 percent to C$12.69.

Economists polled by Reuters are expecting 5,000 new jobs in Canada and 180,000 new jobs in the United States for the month of March. ECONCAECONUS

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the TSX by 163 to 84, for a 1.94-to-1 ratio on the upside.

The index posted nine new 52-week highs and no new lows.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Leslie Adler