CANADA STOCKS-TSX notches best monthly gain since 2011 on oil rebound

(Adds analyst comment, market details, updates prices to close)

* TSX ends down 9.62 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,494.36

* Index rises 5 pct in March, best month since October 2011

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, March 31 Canada’s main stock index
ended slightly lower on Thursday as losses for materials and
financial stocks canceled out advances for energy stocks, whose
recent strength helped the index notch its best monthly
performance in more than four years.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index
gained 5 percent in March, its biggest monthly move
higher since October 2011, with its recovery from a swoon to
start the year helped by a rebound in oil prices.

“In terms of the quarter, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster
ride,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung Investment
Management.

He said he questioned the sustainability of the rally given
it was likely boosted by short covering and that a handful of
geopolitical risks stand ready to trigger a selloff.

“This is a time to be fairly cautious,” he said,
recommending selective accumulation in energy and materials as
well as in insurance companies and some industrial stocks.

On the day, the S&P/TSX index ended down 9.62 points, or
0.07 percent, at 13,494.36.

The energy group climbed 0.9 percent as oil prices were
steady to firmer at the end of their best month in almost a
year.

The most influential gainers on the index included two of
its biggest energy companies: Suncor Energy Inc, which
rose 1.5 percent to C$36.17, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd
, which added 1.4 percent to C$35.13.

The heavyweight financials group slipped 0.2 percent, while
the materials group, which includes precious and base metals
miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.4 percent.

Mining company Silver Wheaton Corp’s shares fell
5.8 percent to C$21.55 after it increased the number of new
shares it planned to issue under a previously announced
financing deal, while fertilizer company Potash Corp
fell 2.1 percent to C$21.55.

Toronto-Dominion Bank slipped 0.4 percent to C$56.06
after it said it expected losses from bad loans in the oil and
gas sector to be manageable given its relatively limited
exposure sector.

Cara Operations Ltd rose 9.4 percent to C$29.15
after the owner of the Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s restaurant
chains said it would buy St-Hubert BBQ, one of Quebec’s largest
casual dining chains, for C$537 million ($415 million).

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc
fell 3 percent to C$34.05 after a regulator sent its management
a cease-trade order. The drugmaker is seeking more
time to file its annual report, as it risks defaulting on its
$30 billion debt if it misses the current April 29 deadline.

(Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by
Bill Trott and Matthew Lewis)

The article CANADA STOCKS-TSX notches best monthly gain since 2011 on oil rebound was originally published at Reuters - US Energy.