Canadian stocks rose the most in three weeks, led by gold producers, after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it will keep its benchmark interest rate at “exceptionally low levels” until at least late 2014.
Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX), the world’s largest producer of the metal, increased 5.8 percent as the metal advanced. Royal Bank of Canada (RY), the country’s biggest lender by assets, fell 1 percent after the European Central Bank was said to oppose taking losses on its Greek debt holdings. Encana Corp., Canada’s largest natural gas producer, gained 10 percent as the fuel rose for a fourth day.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index (SPTSX) climbed 143.97 points, or 1.2 percent, to a four-month high of 12,539.21.
“Gold is always an alternative to the paper currency, and when you’re going to debase and devalue your own currency by cheap, cheap money, all of a sudden people look for another store of value,” Tony Demarin, chief investment officer at BCV Asset Management in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said in a telephone interview. The firm oversees C$335 million ($333 million).
The S&P/TSX dropped 1 percent yesterday, its biggest decline this month, as talks to determine how much in losses holders of Greek debt will accept reached a stalemate. The index gained 4.7 percent this month through Jan. 23 as improving employment and manufacturing data in the U.S. overshadowed the European debt crisis.
The U.S. central bank extended its pledge to keep rates low from its previous end of the middle of 2013, citing “low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation.”
U.S. Dollar Sinks
The U.S. Dollar Index fell and precious metals rallied after the Fed released its statement. The S&P/TSX Gold Index (STGOLD) surged the most since Nov. 30.
Barrick gained 5.8 percent, the most since December 2009, to C$48.60. Goldcorp Inc. (G), the world’s second-largest producer of the metal by market value, advanced 6.4 percent to C$47.71. Tahoe Resources Inc. (THO), which explores for silver in Guatemala, soared 13 percent to C$21.49. Iamgold Corp. (IMG), which mines in West Africa, South America and Quebec, jumped 9.6 percent, the most since May 2010, to C$17.04.
The eight lenders in the S&P/TSX each dropped after two people familiar with the stance of the ECB’s Governing Council said the central bank is opposed to joining private-sector investors in accepting losses on Greek debt. The people declined to be identified because the matter is confidential.
Royal Bank lost 1 percent to C$53.23. TD, its biggest domestic rival, dropped 0.7 percent to C$78.73. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the country’s fifth-largest lender by assets, slipped 1 percent to C$76.88.
Mutual-fund company AGF Management Ltd. slumped 4.4 percent to C$16.15 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that trailed the average analyst in a Bloomberg survey by 23 percent.
Natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange extended their four-day gain to 18 percent. The fuel has rebounded from the lowest price since 2002 as Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest U.S. producer, said it will cut production and reduce spending Jan. 23.
Encana Corp. (ECA), the country’s largest natural gas producer, rallied 10 percent, the most since November 2008, to C$20.75. Enbridge Inc. (ENB), Canada’s biggest pipeline company, climbed 1.4 percent to C$37.21. Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU), which produces oil and gas in Canada, advanced 6.8 percent to C$24.95 after increasing its production forecast for 2012.
BCE Inc. (BCE), Canada’s largest phone company, decreased 1.5 percent to C$40.95 after Drew McReynolds, an analyst at Royal Bank, cut his rating on the stock to “sector perform” from “outperform.” Some other telecommunications and media companies in Canada cost less relative to earnings and will grow as fast or faster than BCE, McReynolds said in a note to clients.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) rebounded 8.1 percent to C$16.40 on speculation its 15 percent plunge in the previous three days was overdone. Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins, who replaced Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis Jan. 22, said the following day he plans no “drastic change” at the Waterloo, Ontario-based company.
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