TSX flat as miners' gains offset by losses in oil shares

By John Tilak
A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange stock information is seen in Toronto
A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as a decline in shares of energy producers, as oil prices dropped, neutralized strength in mining shares.

While signs of increasing supply and sluggish demand played the biggest role in driving down the price of crude oil, investors also kept an eye on the volatile situation in the Middle East. [O/R]

With rising international pressure for a long-lasting ceasefire, Israel toned down its offensive in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire declined.

The Toronto stock market's benchmark index eased from the record high it hit the previous session as investors braced for a wave of economic data this week. It is still up about 13 percent this year, but analysts say gains will now be harder to come by.

“I share the assertion that the easy money has been made. One needs to be cautious at these levels,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.

“You can say without a shadow of a doubt that the risk/reward is not as attractive as it was two years ago when the TSX was foundering.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed down 9.82 points, or 0.06 percent, at 15,445.22. Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.

Among oil and gas companies, Suncor Energy Inc gave back 0.5 percent to C$45.34 and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd lost 1.3 percent to C$48.15. The energy sector was down 0.8 percent.

Shares of Athabasca Oil Corp tumbled 6.8 percent to C$6.41 after the company said it was still trying to collect C$1.23 billion ($1.14 billion) owed to it by a unit of PetroChina <601857.SS>. Athabasca's stock had the biggest percentage decline on the index.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, added 0.6 percent. Teck Resources Ltd climbed 1.7 percent to C$25.79, and Goldcorp Inc advanced 0.7 percent to C$30.73.

Smartphone maker BlackBerry dropped 3.3 percent to C$10.75.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum; and Peter Galloway)