Canadian stocks tumbled, giving the benchmark index its second-biggest decline of the year, after energy and raw-material shares dropped as commodity prices plunged amid an unexpected slump in U.S. retail sales.
The Standard & Poor’s/GSCI Index of commodities tumbled 1.3 percent to the lowest level since July. Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) and Yamana Gold Inc. slumped at least 6.8 percent as the price of gold dipped below $1,500 an ounce, entering a bear market. First Majestic Silver Corp. and Silver Standard Resources Inc. lost as much as 4.1 percent as silver plunged. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ) Ltd. fell 3.7 percent after crude declined to its lowest in a month.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index (SPTSX) fell 143.78 points, or 1.2 percent, to 12,337.59 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The gauge’s biggest decline this year was on April 3, when it tumbled 2.1 percent amid another commodities slump. The benchmark Canadian equity index is down 0.8 percent for 2013, erasing earlier gains. Trading volume was 3.5 percent higher than the 30-day average.
“It’s pretty ugly here and the commodities are again the main culprit,” said John Kinsey, fund manager with Caldwell Securities Ltd. in Toronto. His firm manages about C$1 billion ($987 million). “Gold is taking a thrashing and energy stocks are a problem as well. Financials are also reacting to the U.S. numbers. It’s not quite as bad as it used to be, when the U.S. sneezed and we’d catch a cold, but the U.S. is our largest trading partner.”
U.S. retail sales fell 0.4 percent in March, the most in nine months, Commerce Department figures showed. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an unchanged reading in March. Department stores and electronics dealers were among the weakest showings.
Raw-materials stocks declined the most in the S&P/TSX, losing 4.2 percent as a group to the lowest level since June 2009.
Barrick, the world’s largest producer of gold, plunged 8.2 percent to C$22.94, its lowest close since October 2008. Yamana Gold lost 6.8 percent to C$13.27, for the biggest decline since September 2011.
Gold for June delivery tumbled 4.1 percent to settle at $1,501.40 an ounce in New York, entering what many consider a bear market after slumping more than 20 percent from an August 2011 record. The price was down 5.3 percent to $1,482.70 in electronic trading as of 5 p.m. in Toronto.
The S&P/TSX Gold (STGOLD) index sank 6.2 percent to its lowest level since November 2008. All 30 members declined.
First Majestic Silver fell 4.1 percent to C$14.22 and Silver Standard Resources lost 6 percent to C$8.69 as silver futures for May delivery dropped 4.9 percent to $26.331 an ounce, the biggest loss since June.
Canadian Natural Resources retreated 3.7 percent to C$31.28 and Suncor Energy Inc. decreased 1.5 percent to C$28.82. Crude for May delivery declined 2.4 percent to settle at $91.29, the lowest in a month. Cyprus was said to seek an increase in the 10 billion euros ($13 billion) pledged by the euro area, raising concern the European debt crisis will worsen.
Dollarama (DOL) Inc. surged 5.6 percent to C$68.23, its highest level since an initial public offering in October 2009. The discount retailer reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of C$1.06 a share, compared with analysts’ estimates of C$1.02. The company also raised its quarterly dividend 27 percent to 14 Canadian cents a share from 11 cents.
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