Canadian stocks fluctuated between gains and losses, after a three-day advance for the benchmark index, as increases among banks and energy shares offset declines in precious-metals producers.
Royal Bank of Canada advanced 0.6 percent. Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. gained at least 1.1 percent. Barrick Gold Corp. and New Gold Inc. tumbled more than 3.5 percent as the metal’s price slumped 1.6 percent. Westjet Airlines Ltd. dropped 5 percent after reporting weaker April traffic figures.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index (SPTSX) rose 4.40 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 12,458.32 at 11:49 a.m. in Toronto. The benchmark equity gauge has gained 0.2 percent this year.
“The banks are performing well and people are picking away at energy names with the unrest in the Middle East,” said Arthur Salzer, chief executive officer with Northland Wealth Management in Toronto. His firm manages C$225 million ($224 million). “It’s a wait and see day. We’ve seen such a weak start to the year in Canada that we will need to see just a little more growth before people will really put their money to work.”
Bank and energy stocks contributed most to gains in the S&P/TSX. Royal Bank of Canada advanced 0.6 percent to C$61.75, headed for its highest close in a month.
Suncor, Canada’s largest oil producer, rallied 1.5 percent to C$31.28 while Cenovus advanced 1.1 percent to C$30.50.
Israel launched airstrikes against targets in Syria on May 5. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed his country’s right to self-defense and Syria threatened retaliation against Israel. Crude slid 0.6 percent to $95.63 a barrel, falling for the first time in four days.
Raw-materials producers paced losses, falling 1.5 percent as a group. Gold producers slumped 3 percent, headed for a two- week low with 28 of 30 stocks falling.
Barrick Gold declined 3.5 percent to C$19.74 and New Gold lost 5.1 percent to C$7.24 as gold futures for June delivery tumbled 1.6 percent to $1,444.40 an ounce in New York.
Gold fell after Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem discussed details for the European banking union project, adding to signs that the regions’s leaders will act to contain its fiscal crisis and eroding demand for haven assets.
Westjet (WJA), the discount airliner based in Calgary, dropped 5 percent to C$23.49. Westjet reported an April load factor of 82.7 percent, down 3.5 percentage points compared with a year earlier. Load factor is a measure of available seats sold.
The company also announced plans to upgrade its fleet with 10 new jetliners from Boeing Co. with a catalog value of $891 million while unloading 10 older jets. Westjet will likely incur a non-cash loss of C$60 million to C$70 million once it gets rid of the older aircraft.
Westjet reported a profit of 68 cents a share in the first quarter, ahead of consensus expectations of 64 cents according to a Bloomberg analyst survey.
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