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TSX edges higher as strong miners offset SNC slide

03/08/2013 | 05:18pm US/Eastern

Canada's main stock index ended slightly higher on Friday as rebounding mining shares offset weaker tech stocks and a steep drop in SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (>> SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.) after the engineering company reported disappointing quarterly results.

Canada's main stock index ended slightly higher on Friday as rebounding mining shares offset weaker tech stocks and a steep drop in SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (>> SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.) after the engineering company reported disappointing quarterly results.

Strong jobs data in both Canada and the United States had little impact on shares as Canadian investors seemed reluctant to follow U.S. equity markets higher. The S&P 500 <.SPX> rose nearly 0.5 percent on the U.S. employment data.

"The TSX continues to trade sideways. There's some lingering concern about where we go from here," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.

"At this point, all we can hope for is a narrowing of the gap between the S&P 500 and the TSX."

The Toronto index is up about 3 percent this year, trailing an 8 percent rise in the S&P 500.

SNC's shares dropped 6.2 percent to C$43.01, making it the worst performer on the TSX index, after its fourth-quarter earnings and 2013 outlook fell short of market expectations.

That helped pull the TSX industrials group down 0.6 percent, making it one of the four of 10 TSX subgroups to weaken during the session.

The small information technology subgroup was also weak. It retreated 1.1 percent on the back of IT services company CGI Group Inc (>> CGI Group Inc.), which fell 2.7 percent to C$26.58, and BlackBerry (>> Research In Motion Ltd), which eased 1.1 percent to C$13.43.

All told, the S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> gained 9.09 points, or 0.07 percent, to finish at 12,835.61.

For the week, the index gained 0.49 percent. It hit a 14-month high in January, but has retreated since then due to weakness in the mining and energy shares that make up much of the Canadian market.

JOB GAINS

In Canada, the job market defied expectations and posted strong gains in February, lending some credibility to predictions of an economic comeback this year after the slowest two quarters of growth since the 2008-09 recession.

"The numbers in the U.S. have been coming in on the decent side, and finally we get a better than expected number on the unemployment side in Canada, but obviously that didn't seem to be enough to pull us out of the rut," said Levente Mady, a senior portfolio manager at PI Financial Corp in Vancouver.

The index's mining-heavy materials subgroup gained 0.8 percent, led by gold miners, as the yellow metal rebounded from early weakness.

Banro Corp (>> Banro Corporation) jumped 10.1 percent to C$1.96, rebounding somewhat from a steep loss in the previous session after the company's chief executive resigned.

Also fueling the group was Iamgold (>> IAMGOLD Corporation), which gained 5.5 percent to C$6.75, and First Quantum Minerals (>> First Quantum Minerals Limited), which gained 6.2 percent to C$20.42.

The energy subgroup was little changed despite a 7.5 percent rise in Niko Resources Ltd (>> Niko Resources Ltd.) after the oil and gas producer projected robust cash flow and said it had received significant offers for certain non-core assets. Its shares ended at C$6.48.

(Additional reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Peter Galloway)

By Cameron French

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