TORONTO, Mar. 6 (Xinhua) -- Canada's main stock market in Toronto opened the week slightly higher, as gains in energy and financial sectors outpaced losses in materials stocks.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite advanced a modest 21.25 points, or 0.14 percent, to close the session at 15,629.75 points. Six of the ten sub-groups ended the day ahead.
The Energy and Financial groups had the biggest impact on the day, rising 0.77 percent and 0.52 percent, respectively.
Energy stocks thrived from gains in crude oil and natural gas prices. A barrel of Brent for May delivery in London advanced 0.34 percent to finish the day at 56.00 U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, April natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 1.70 percent to 2.875 U.S. dollars per million British thermal units.
As a result, shares of Calgary-based Baytex Energy Corp. jumped 4.57 percent to close at 5.03 Canadian dollars (3.75 U.S. dollars). Also finishing ahead were Spartan Energy, Suncor Energy, and Enbridge, with respective increases of 1.15 percent, 1.08 percent, and 0.71 percent.
The TSX Financial Group continued to rise one week prior to the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting where an interest rate hike is anticipated. Canada's largest insurer, Manulife Financial Corporation, climbed 0.70 percent to 24.62 Canadian dollars (18.36 U.S. dollars) a share and was the tenth most exchanged stock on the day with a volume in excess of four million. Bank stocks also contributed, as Toronto-Dominion Bank advanced 0.98 percent, while Royal Bank of Canada gained 0.85 percent.
The remaining groups to finish the day in positive territory were: Telecommunications (0.58 percent), Utilities (0.15 percent), Information Technology (0.10 percent), and Consumer Staples (0.03 percent).
The Utilities sector finished slightly higher after Toronto-based Northland Power Inc. announced the acquisition of German offshore wind project under development. The purchase of the asset along with the cost to complete it is expected to cost approximately 1.2 billion Euros. As a result of the news, shares of the Northland surged 4.60 percent to 24.79 Canadian dollars (18.49 U.S. dollars).
Materials group topped the laggards on the day, slumping 1.94 percent. The group which is comprised of producers of gold, precious metals, and raw materials, fell for the tenth time in the last 15 trading days and is down a combined 10.84 percent.
On Monday, the spot price of gold, copper and silver all took a beating. Gold retreated 0.75 percent to 1,225.10 U.S. dollars an ounce, while the same weight of silver dipped 1.11 percent to 17.75 U.S. dollars. As a result, B2Gold Corp. and IAMGOLD Corporation saw shares plunge 6.47 percent and 5.91 percent, respectively.
Copper miners were also hit hard after a pound of the base metal slipped 1.05 percent to 2.6576 U.S. dollars. Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. shares fell 4.80 percent to 3.97 Canadian dollars (2.96 U.S. dollars) and 2.88 percent to 14.82 Canadian dollars (11.05 U.S. dollars), respectively.
Other groups that finished lower on Monday included: Health Care (1.94 percent), Consumer Discretionary (0.20 percent), and Industrials (0.01 percent).
The Canadian dollar slipped 0.17 cents to begin the week at 0.7457 U.S. dollars.