Most Canadian stocks fell as mining and energy shares declined after gold futures retreated and the U.S. reported a bigger-than-forecast increase in gasoline supplies.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the country’s second-biggest energy company by market value, decreased 1.6 percent. Goldcorp Inc., the world’s second-largest producer of the metal by market value, lost 1.3 percent as Greek political parties failed to agree on austerity measures and the U.S. dollar strengthened. Agrium Inc., a fertilizer producer and farm retailer, climbed 1.9 percent after its fourth-quarter earnings topped all 23 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
Of the 253 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index 130 fell, 116 rose and seven were unchanged. The Canadian equity benchmark rose 8.6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,521.02 in Toronto, as financial companies gained after housing starts in the country fell less than forecast.
Investors “are waiting for Greece,” Gareth Watson, vice president of investment management and research at Richardson GMP Ltd. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. The firm oversees about C$16 billion ($16 billion). “Politicians and now the market are saying to Greece, ‘Look, you can’t keep pushing this off, and you need to come to a resolution now.’”
The S&P/TSX has risen 4.7 percent this year as manufacturing data from the U.S., Europe and China surpassed most economists’ forecasts in Bloomberg surveys, overshadowing the European debt crisis. Resources companies make up 48 percent of Canadian stocks by market value, according to Bloomberg data.
Euro-area finance ministers are due to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels tomorrow as the Greek government pushes to complete talks on terms of a rescue.
U.S. gasoline supplies increased 1.63 million barrels last week, the Energy Department said today in Washington. Analysts had forecast a gain of 875,000 barrels, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The U.S. also reported higher distillate-fuel supplies. Most surveyed analysts had forecast a decline.
Canadian Natural decreased 1.6 percent to C$37.92. Birchcliff Energy Ltd., a western Canadian oil and gas producer, retreated 4.6 percent to C$13.05.
Encana Corp., the country’s largest natural gas producer, fell 1.8 percent to C$19.48. The company’s bonds have dropped the most among global energy companies this year as investors project further declines in prices of the fuel. Natural gas tumbled 50 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the eight months ending today.
Fourth Straight Drop
The S&P/TSX Gold Index declined for a fourth day as the metal retreated for a third time in four days on the Comex in New York.
Goldcorp slipped 1.3 percent to C$46.97. Yamana Gold Inc., Canada’s fourth-largest producer of the metal by market value, lost 1.2 percent to C$16.60. Among base-metals producers, Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s biggest, decreased 2 percent to C$40.75.
Nevsun Resources Ltd., which mines gold in the African country of Eritrea, slumped 4.6 percent to C$4.20 after plunging 31 percent yesterday. At least three analysts cut their share-price forecasts on Nevsun today, a day after it said production may fall 50 percent this year.
The S&P/TSX Financials Index rose for a fourth day after Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. reported that work began on 197,900 units at a seasonally adjusted annual pace. Economists had forecast 194,000 starts, according to the median of 19 responses to a Bloomberg News survey. Royal Bank of Canada, the biggest stock by weight in the S&P/Index, rose 0.7 percent to C$53.93.
Chartwell Seniors Housing Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns retirement and long-term-care residences, rose 2.1 percent to C$8.80. Canadian Western Bank, the country’s eighth-biggest lender, gained 1.8 percent to C$27.39.
Agrium rallied 1.9 percent to C$82.63 after its quarterly profit beat the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts by 16 percent, excluding certain items. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer by market value, climbed 1.1 percent to C$46.31.
ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc., which makes factory-automation equipment, surged 7 percent to C$7.60 after reporting third-quarter earnings that surpassed the average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey by 13 percent, excluding certain items. The shares jumped as much as 12 percent, the most intraday since June 2009.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. gained 4.2 percent to C$13.65 after the Calgary-based carrier posted fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and it moved closer to starting a low-cost regional unit next year as a majority of employees backed the idea after management sought their input.
Theratechnologies Inc. fell 14 percent, the most since Aug. 8, to C$2.26. The HIV drug developer failed to provide a sales forecast with its quarterly financial results.