* TSX down 31.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,547.75
* Six of the TSX's 10 main groups were lower
(Adds details, analyst comment, updates with close)
TORONTO/OTTAWA, March 31 Canada's main stock
index ended modestly lower on Friday, weighed by financial and
railway companies, though better-than-expected results from
BlackBerry offset some of the losses as its stock
Despite the small decline, the Toronto stock market ended
the first quarter up 1.7 percent, its fifth consecutive
quarterly advance. Although the market hit a record high last
month, it has pulled back somewhat since.
"We had a bit of a consolidation toward the end of this
quarter, which I think was very healthy," said Rick Hutcheon,
president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.
"I think the market needs to pause a little bit. I suspect
we're going to be in a situation where the market trades in a
bit of a range for a while."
Shares of BlackBerry Ltd jumped 11.1 percent to C$10.3
after the company reported better-than-expected adjusted
earnings and said it expects to be profitable on an adjusted
basis in 2018.
BlackBerry was one of the biggest lifts on the index, while
the tech group was the best performing sector,
climbing 0.7 percent.
But the market was weighed by declines in financial shares,
including Royal Bank of Canada, which fell 1.0 percent
to C$96.89. Bank of Nova Scotia declined 1.1 percent to
C$77.8. The overall financials group slipped 0.6
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended down 31.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,547.75.
Of the index's 10 main groups, six fell.
CIBC, which fell nearly 3 percent on Thursday after
it raised its offer for PrivateBancorp Inc, recouped some of the
previous session's losses, rising 0.8 percent to C$114.67.
Canada's two biggest rail operators also dragged, with
Canadian Pacific Railway slipping 1.0 percent to
C$195.35 and Canadian National Railway off 0.5 percent
Energy stocks tracked moves in oil prices, which edged up
after falling below $50 a barrel. The Canadian energy group
edged up 0.2 percent.
U.S. crude prices settled up 25 cents at $50.60 a
barrel, though Brent crude lost 13 cents to $52.83.
Data showed the Canadian economy expanded by a healthy 0.6
percent in January from December, indicating first-quarter
growth will be stronger than expected as the country gradually
recovers from the shock of low oil prices.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the TSX by
129 to 110, for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the upside.
The index posted 10 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto and Leah Schnurr in
Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler)