TORONTO, Mar. 9 (Xinhua) -- Canada's main stock market in Toronto stood pat on Thursday, as losses in Materials stocks were neutralized by gains from the Energy sector.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite inched down 0.14 points, with a change of less than one percentage point to close the session at 15,496.84 points. Four of the ten sub-groups finished higher on the day.
For a second straight day, the energy group had the biggest impact on the index. After sliding 3.96 percent yesterday, the group bounced back with a 1.62 percent gain on Thursday after the announcement of a major deal involving Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Canadian Natural Resources Limited.
Shell agreed to sell all but 10 percent of their assets in Canada' s oilsands to the Calgary-based firm to reduce their and divest their portfolio.
As a result of the deal, which is expected to be finalized mid-year, shares of Canadian Natural Resources spiked 9.84 percent to 43.31 Canadian dollars (32.06 U.S. dollars).
The price of Brent crude oil continued to tumble, dropping to 52.60 U.S. dollars a barrel for delivery in May. This is the lowest point since Nov. 30 of last year. Subsequently, shares of Cenovus Energy Inc. and Crescent Point Energy Corp. slipped 2.54 percent and 1.45 percent, respectively.
Other groups to finish the day ahead were: Information Technology (0.67 percent), Industrials (0.16 percent), and Telecommunications (0.16 percent).
Six groups lost ground on the day with Materials and Financials leading the way, retreating 0.42 percent and 0.27 percent, apiece.
The TSX Materials group, which is made up of producers of gold, precious metals, and raw materials, continued its recent slump. Over the past 18 trading days, the group has closed lower 12 times and is down a combined 11.83 percent.
The spot price of gold fell to a five-week low ahead of next week's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting where an interest rate hike is expected.
An ounce of bullion fell 7.20 U.S. dollars (0.60 percent) to 1,200.80 U.S. dollars. Shares of Barrick Gold Corporation, the world's largest gold miner faded 0.71 percent to 23.89 Canadian dollars (17.69 U.S. dollars).
Copper also took a beating, slumping 1.32 percent close at 2.5750 U.S. dollars a pound. As a result, firms that predominately mine copper also fell. Toronto-based Lundin Mining Corporation dipped 3.13 percent, while Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals Ltd. shares declined 3.48 percent.
The remaining groups to finish lower were: Consumer Discretionary (0.39 percent), Health Care (0.32 percent), Utilities (0.28 percent), Financials (0.27 percent), and Consumer Staples (0.13 percent).
The Canadian dollar faded 0.08 cents to end the day at 0.7403 U.S. dollars.