TSX steady as market shy to move with U.S. on holiday

John Tilak
People attend a market open ceremony for Toronto Stock Exchange at the TSX Broadcast Centre in Toronto
People attend a market open ceremony for the Toronto Stock Exchange at the TSX Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as gains in financials were offset by weakness in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc with investors reluctant to make big moves while the U.S. market was closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

The holiday kept volumes thin. The 103 million shares that changed hands compared with an average daily volume of about 301 million shares in April, according to Thomson Reuters data and figures from market operator TMX Group.

The Toronto stock market's benchmark index is up more than 8 percent this year, and those gains could be making share prices expensive, some investors said.

"The market is maybe running ahead right now, only because investors are buying everything in sight," said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management.

He said that investors should be more selective and make changes to their portfolios, but added that the appetite for Canadian equities remains pretty high.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed up 7.59 points, or 0.05 percent, at 14,715.69. It has outperformed the S&P 500 <.SPX> so far in 2014.

"The Toronto stock market will be a surprise winner this year," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "We think it will outdo the U.S. market and commodity prices will do better."

Investors were also digesting news of strong election performances by pro-European forces in Italy and Germany, while nationalist, Euroskeptic parties triumphed in France and Britain.

Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added 0.2 percent. Manulife Financial Corp gained 1.3 percent to C$20.30, and Toronto-Dominion Bank advanced 0.4 percent to C$53.61. The two stocks had the biggest positive influence on the market.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, edged up. Teck Resources Ltd climbed 0.4 percent to C$25.46, and Barrick Gold Corp rose 0.3 percent to C$18.02.

Valeant slid 0.9 percent to C$143.70.

In corporate news, a Sun Life Financial executive said the company is boosting investment in Indonesia and Malaysia at a time when growth in earnings from some core Asian markets has slowed. The stock added 0.4 percent to C$36.91.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)