By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed slightly lower on Thursday as a drop in oil prices weighed on high-flying energy shares and a senior Bank of Canada official left the door open to additional interest rate hikes.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 4.03 points at 19,969.19, its fifth straight day of declines and its lowest closing level since Nov. 17.
The Bank of Canada will study the most recent economic data to gauge whether to raise interest rates further, Deputy Governor Sharon Kozicki said, adding the central bank would still move forcefully if necessary.
"It's becoming clear that the Bank of Canada is seeing some early signs of a demand slowdown," said Angelo Kourkafas, an investment strategist at Edward Jones Investments.
"Given the magnitude of the rate hikes, they want some time to evaluate how that's going to impact the economy."
Wall Street's major indexes gained ground, with the S&P 500 snapping its losing streak, as investors took data showing a rise in weekly jobless claims as a sign the pace of interest rate hikes could soon slow.
The Toronto market's energy sector declined 0.6% as the price of oil fell to its lowest level this year, settling down 0.8% at $71.46 a barrel.
Still, energy is up 45.2% since the start of the year, the best performing sector by far.
TC Energy Corp shares dipped 0.1% as the company said it had shut its Keystone pipeline, crimping the flow of Canadian oil to U.S. refineries after a spill into a Kansas creek.
Technology fell 0.3% and heavily-weighted financials ended 0.2% lower.
The consumer-related sectors were a bright spot. Consumer discretionary gained 1.1% and consumer staples was up 1.6%, moving to a record high.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Josie Kao)