Canadian stocks fell for the third time this week as U.S. initial jobless claims topped forecasts and concern over European debt intensified.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. declined 2.2 percent, leading energy shares lower. Research In Motion Ltd. retreated 2.3 percent after reviewers from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Wired criticized its PlayBook tablet computer. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest gold producer, rose 2.2 percent as precious metals gained.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index slipped 11.84 point points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,821.80.
“Over in Europe, we’ve seen spreads widen on the bonds, and people are wondering if there will be restructuring of debt,” said Jeffrey Bradacs, a Toronto-based senior investment analyst for a team at Manulife Asset Management that oversees C$1.7 billion ($1.8 billion). “Some people seeing the risk of that are pulling back” from equities and commodities.
The index lost 2.6 percent this week through yesterday after four straight weekly gains. Oil and copper stocks have declined after the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for the U.S. and investors speculated China may raise further tighten credit.
Die Welt today quoted German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as saying Greece may need to renegotiate its debt burden if an audit in June raises doubt on its ability to pay creditors. Greek bond yields climbed to the highest since 1998 and the cost to insure against defaults on Greek government debt increased to a record.
In the U.S., 412,000 people filed first-time jobless claims last week, the Labor Department said in Washington. The figure exceeded all 49 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Canadian factory sales retreated 1.5 percent in February, Statistics Canada said. Economists had forecast a decrease of 0.5 percent, according to the median of 21 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
Canadian Natural dropped 2.2 percent to C$42.59 for a fourth-straight loss. Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., which produces oil in Colombia, declined 2 percent to C$27.88. Talisman Energy Inc., an oil and gas producer with operations in North America, the North Sea and Indonesia, decreased 0.8 percent to C$22.18.
Gold advanced and silver rallied the most this year as the U.S. dollar retreated to a 16-month low against a basket of world currencies.
“People, when they look around the globe, with the concern in Europe and concern with the U.S. dollar and its deficit, are attracted to gold,” Bradacs said.
Barrick increased 2.2 percent to C$51.26. Goldcorp Inc., the world’s second-largest gold producer by market value, climbed 2.3 percent to C$51.86.
Nautilus Minerals Inc., which explores for gold and copper on the ocean floor, surged 10 percent to C$3.24 after jumping 18 percent yesterday. Nautilus said it has formed a joint venture with Bremen, Germany-based shipping company Harren & Partner to operate a vessel that will serve as Nautilus’s operational base.
Banro Corp., which explores for gold in Africa, soared 19 percent, the most since June 2009, to C$2.79 after saying construction of its Twangiza mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains on schedule. The shares had tumbled 41 percent this year through yesterday.
Pan American Silver Corp., which produces silver and base metals in Latin America, sank 9.3 percent to C$35.89 after Nicolas Fernandez, a spokesman for Bolivia’s state mining company, said the country will expropriate mines privatized by previous governments. The shares’ tumble was the biggest in a day since August 2009.
Teck Resources Inc., Canada’s largest base-metals and coal producer, fell 1.5 percent to C$50.14 as copper dropped after the China Securities Journal said the country is likely to raise reserve requirements for banks in the “near future.” Teck shares have declined seven straight days, the longest streak since January 2009.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the country’s second-largest publicly traded copper producer, lost 1.9 percent to C$119.06, extending its weekly drop to 13 percent.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer by market value, decreased 1.1 percent to C$53.88. Wheat futures retreated for a fourth day as meteorologists forecast rain for drought-stricken Kansas.
RIM, Canada’s largest technology company, retreated 2.3 percent to C$51.57. David Pogue of the New York Times called the first version of the PlayBook “half-baked,” while Mike Isaac of Wired said it has “serious gaps in key areas like app selection and Flash stability.”
Shaw Communications Inc., the country’s biggest cable and satellite television provider by subscribers, dropped 2.4 percent to C$19.32 after slumping 3.7 percent yesterday. The company reported second-quarter sales yesterday that trailed analyst estimates. At least five analysts reduced their share-price estimates on Shaw today.