TORONTO: Canadian shares edged up on Friday, in thin and choppy month-end trading, as investors clung to hopes that US politicians would reach a fiscal deal before the end of the year, and as Nexen Inc jumped on signs that a takeover of the company may be approved.
Energy producer Nexen was one of the top advancers, climbing nearly 5 percent to C$24.39. A Canadian cabinet figure known to have reservations about CNOOC Ltd's bid to buy Nexen said that at least some of Canada's concerns about getting reciprocal treatment from China had been addressed by an investment pact.
Nexen shares had been under pressure this week because of a possible delay in the US regulatory approval process, but the Canadian government signaled late on Thursday that the US deliberations would not affect Canada's review.
Despite the positive signals for the Nexen deal, seen as a litmus test for foreign investment policy in Canada, broader moves in the market were limited as investors remained cautious over the US budget impasse.
US President Barack Obama and top Republicans remained at odds about how to avert going over the "fiscal cliff," a series of tax hikes and spending cuts next year that could push the economy into recession.
Obama accused a "handful of Republicans" in the US House of Representatives of holding up legislation to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans in order to try to preserve them for the wealthy.
"When you look at the fiscal cliff I think there's no other way around it. They might push it right up to the edge and maybe a little bit over and play brinkmanship, but they will come to an agreement," said Arthur Salzer, chief executive officer of Northland Wealth Management. "There's a lot of posturing.
"When you get these kinds of deleveraging cycles, tax rates do go up ... interest rates stay low and the wealthy don't get wealthy as fast anymore."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 36.51 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,239.36. Eight of the 10 sectors finished on firmer ground.
The TSX ended the week up 0.2 percent, but for the month lost 1.5 percent.
Among the bigger gainers on Friday, Bank of Nova Scotia rose 1.4 percent to C$56.00, Royal Bank of Canada edged up 0.5 percent to C$58.90 and TransCanada Corp added 1.5 percent to C$45.98.
"I think a lot of people are glad that the month of November is over," said Bruce Latimer, trader at Dundee Securities. "The volumes have kind of waned the last few days. Kind of makes you feel that a lot of these stocks are fairly priced where they are right now."
Also helping to lift sentiment, German lawmakers approved the latest bailout for Greece on Friday by a large majority, despite growing unease about the cost to taxpayers less than a year before federal elections.