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Canadian Stocks Fall as Banks Decline on U.S. Jobless Claims

Canadian stocks fell for the first time in four days, led by financial companies and energy producers, after the U.S. reported an increase in initial jobless claims and European equities plunged.

Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, dropped 2.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest lender by assets, lost 1 percent as financial shares slid. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest gold producer, increased 2.3 percent as companies in the industry rebounded after sinking 7.2 percent in the previous two days.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index slipped 59.5 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,284.31 after gaining 0.3 percent earlier on speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will signal new measures to stimulate the economy at a symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, tomorrow.

“A lot of hopes had been put into tomorrow’s Jackson Hole meeting,” Luciano Orengo, a money manager at Manulife Financial Corp. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. Orengo oversees C$1.6 billion ($1.6 billion). “People are coming to the realization that nothing of substance is going to come out tomorrow.”

The S&P/TSX slipped 4.7 percent this month through yesterday, the second-least among major developed-market stock benchmarks behind New Zealand’s, as gold rallied to a record while oil futures sank 11 percent. Gold tumbled 5.6 percent yesterday, the most since March 2008, after the U.S. reported a bigger increase in durable-goods orders than most economists had forecast.

Jobless Claims

Last week, 417,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The figure exceeded all 46 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Energy companies fell as European equity markets tumbled on concern the region’s debt crisis is worsening.

Suncor dropped 2.4 percent to C$29.54. Encana Corp., the country’s largest natural gas producer, declined 3.6 percent to C$23.99. Niko Resources Ltd., an oil and gas producer with operations in South Asia, sank 5.4 percent to C$53.31, the lowest since March 2009, after reporting a quarterly loss.

Athabasca Oil Sands Corp., PetroChina Co.’s partner in oil-sands development, surged 4.6 percent to C$12.90 after the Washington Post said the U.S. State Department will take a step toward approving a proposed TransCanada Corp. pipeline to the Gulf Coast as early as tomorrow. The newspaper cited unnamed sources familiar with the process.

Financials Retreat

The S&P/TSX Financials Index decreased after jumping the most since July 2009 in the previous two days.

Royal Bank retreated 1 percent to C$50.76. Manulife, North America’s fourth-biggest insurer, slipped 3.2 percent to C$12.80. National Bank of Canada, the country’s sixth-biggest lender, fell 2.7 percent to C$70.40 after reporting third-quarter revenue that trailed the average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Precious-metals producers advanced as silver gained and gold rebounded from a two-week intraday low.

Barrick increased 2.3 percent to C$49.37. Goldcorp Inc., the world’s second-largest gold producer by market value, climbed 2.7 percent to C$50.06. China Gold International Resources Corp. rallied 6 percent to C$4.42 after reporting a fivefold resources increase at its Jiama copper and gold mine in Tibet.

Electronic-products maker 5N Plus Inc. jumped 14 percent, the most since January 2009, to C$8.15. The company reported fourth-quarter profit that beat the average of four analyst estimates by 48 percent, excluding certain items.

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