Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian stocks fell, paring a second-straight monthly gain, as gold-mining companies dropped after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke damped speculation of more quantitative easing.
Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest gold producer, declined 3.9 percent as the metal retreated after settling at a three-month high yesterday. Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s biggest oil and gas producer, lost 1.8 percent after the U.S. reported an increase in crude inventories. Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd., the nation’s biggest waste-management company, slumped 5.4 percent after forecasting 2012 profit excluding certain items below analysts’ estimates.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index slipped 96.46 points, or 0.8 percent, to 12,644.01 as of 4:10 p.m. Toronto time, narrowing the monthly gain to 1.5 percent. Before Bernanke’s comments, the index was up as much as 0.4 percent today.
“It looks like QE3 is off the table,” Greg Taylor, a money manager at Aurion Capital Management in Toronto, said in a telephone interview, referring to a third round of Fed asset purchases. The firm oversees about C$5.5 billion ($5.6 billion). “There was some segment of the investor population that thought it was on. The golds are getting crushed.”
The index had gained 2.3 percent this month through yesterday as the U.S. reported improved economic data and Greek and European officials reached a deal on a second bailout for the country.
Worst This Year
The S&P/TSX Materials Index fell 2.8 percent, the most this year, after Bernanke in testimony to a congressional committee gave no sign the Fed is considering more asset purchases. Gold tumbled 4.3 percent, the biggest drop since Dec. 14.
Barrick dropped 3.9 percent to C$47.34. Goldcorp Inc., the world’s second-largest gold producer by market value, declined 3.6 percent to C$47.97. Silver Wheaton Corp., Canada’s third-largest precious-metals producer, lost 4.6 percent to C$37.88 as silver sank the most intraday since September.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s biggest fertilizer producer by market value, retreated 1.8 percent to C$46.03 after Andrew Benson, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., said potash prices will be weaker than those of other nutrients in the first half of the year.
“There is ample supply, key producers had to cut production due to lack of demand and the buyer’s market seems more pronounced than in other fertilizers,” Benson wrote in a note to clients about Kassel, Germany-based producer K+S AG today.
The S&P/TSX Energy Index fell with crude oil, which declined as much as 1.6 percent after the U.S. Energy Department said supplies of the fuel increased 4.16 million barrels last week. None of the 12 analysts in a Bloomberg survey had forecast a gain that large. Suncor dropped 1.8 percent to C$35.62.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the country’s second-biggest energy company by market value, declined 2 percent to C$36.73 after Paul Sankey, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, reduced his rating on the stock to hold from buy. Sankey cited a possible decline in world oil demand in a note to clients.
Enbridge Inc., Canada’s largest pipeline company, decreased 1.3 percent to C$38.16 after Theodore Durbin, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., cut his rating on the shares to neutral from buy. A neutral rating means the analyst recommends neither buying nor selling the shares.
Petrominerales Ltd., which produces oil and gold in Colombia, advanced 4.2 percent to C$18.47 after tumbling a record 25 percent the previous two days. The company reported a 14 percent drop in energy reserves Feb. 27.
Progressive Waste Solutions lost 5.4 percent to C$20.38 after forecasting 2012 earnings of $1.13 a share to $1.17 a share, excluding certain items. Analysts had estimated profit of $1.19 a share, according to the average in a Bloomberg survey. The shares sank as much as 11 percent, the most intraday since November 2008, earlier today.
PHX Energy Services Corp. rose 15 percent, the most in three years, to C$11.44 after the Canadian oil and natural-gas drilling company said profit last year reached a record and boosted its dividend.
Calfrac Well Services Ltd. rallied 6.4 percent to C$32.33 after jumping 9.4 percent yesterday. The company reported fourth-quarter earnings yesterday that beat the average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey by 19 percent, excluding certain items. Lara King, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp., raised her 12-month share-price estimate to C$62 from C$56.
Cogeco Cable Inc., the Montreal-based cable-television provider, gained 2.8 percent to C$48.73 after selling its Portuguese unit to Altice, a Luxembourg-based owner of communications companies, for 45 million euros ($60 million). Cogeco Cable wrote off its investment in the unit last year after buying it for 464.9 million euros in 2006.
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