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The close: TSX flat as financials offset drag from telecom stocks

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007.

Mark Blinch / Reuters

Canada's main stock index was flat on Friday but up 1.9 per cent on the week as the heavyweight financials group gained ground, offsetting losses for telecom shares.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed down 0.69 points at 15,454.23. Seven of the index's 10 main groups ended lower.

Finance company ECN Capital Corp. jumped 5.3 per cent after closing a deal to acquire Service Finance Holdings and as Credit Suisse raised its view on the stock to "outperform" from "neutral." TD Bank and Scotiabank also gained.

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BRP Inc. rose 8.8 per cent and Air Canada gained 4.2 per cent as investors bought into its plan to expand routes and cut some prices to compete against low-cost new entrants.

Enbridge was off 1 per cent and TransCanada fell 0.67 per cent even as it received the go-ahead for a key pipeline shipping deal.

The S&P 500 closed slightly higher on Friday as worries about Washington's latest healthcare legislation overhaul proposal eased and investors shrugged off concerns about U.S.-North Korea tensions even as Apple weighed on the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.64 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 22,349.59, the S&P 500 gained 1.61 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 2,502.21 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.23 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6,426.92.

For the week, the S&P rose 0.08 per cent, the Dow gained 0.36 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 0.33 per cent.

Healthcare stocks were volatile as Republicans sought support for their latest effort to replace President Barack Obama's law. Insurers regained some ground after Republican Senator John McCain opposed the bill.

The S&P technology sector and the Nasdaq were weighed down by a 1 per cent fall in Apple shares as its iPhone 8 launch kicked off in a less lively mood in Asia.

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Since technology stocks have been responsible for much of the S&P's gains so far this year, "it's hard for the stock market to move up when the leadership isn't there," said Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab in Boston.

"It's like investors are waiting for something. Maybe they're waiting to see what earnings are like," said Kleintop, adding that investors may be worried about warnings ahead of third quarter reports.

Some moved to safe-haven assets, lifting gold from a four-week low, after North Korea said it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to destroy the reclusive country.

"It's a little bit of a risk-off move. We seem to be getting a lot of rhetoric, both from the administration and North Korea, and it would be premature to say there is an end," said Marcelle Daher, senior managing director, asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with real estate and utilities leading the decliners. After falling as much as 0.5 per cent, the healthcare sector pared losses and was last up 0.08 per cent.

Still, uncertainty over the healthcare bill took a toll on health insurers with UnitedHealth down 1.1 per cent.

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T-Mobile rose 1 per cent after Reuters reported the company was close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with Sprint, whose shares jumped 6.1 per cent.

The report also pushed up bigger rivals Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc., which could benefit from having one less competitor.


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