Canadian shares wavered between gains and losses amid renewed worries that decelerating growth in China may weaken demand for commodities, and ahead of the release of minutes of the US Federal Reserve's September meeting.
The benchmark Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index (TSE:OSPTX) was down 0.1% at 13,878.65 at 11:44 a.m. in Toronto. Six out of the 10 share groups retreated.
The Federal Open Market Committee's September meeting minutes are scheduled for release at 2 p.m.
The energy sector, the main index's second most heavily weighted group, rose 1% as oil prices climbed back above $48.
Encana (TSE:ECA) gained 4.2% to C$11.50 after the producer of natural gas and crude said it will sell assets in Colorado for $900mln lower its debt.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, November West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.7% to $48.60 a barrel.
The materials sub-index, which includes mining shares, fell 2.7% as gold retreated from a two-week high and silver slumped 4% on Thursday.
Spot gold eased 0.4% to $1,139.66 an ounce.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose 0.4%. Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY), which has the heaviest weighting in the index, tacked on 0.1% to C$74.16. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSE:TD), the second-largest bank by market value, was little changed at 0.1%.
In economic news, Canadian housing starts surged unexpectedly in September while new home prices also topped forecasts in August, prolonging a housing boom in the country despite signs of weakness in other parts of the economy.