Canadian Stocks Fall as Oil, Financial Stocks Decline

Canadian stocks fell for a third day, led by financial and energy shares, after U.S. jobless claims topped economist estimates and oil dropped as governments discussed releasing strategic reserves.

Trican Well Service Ltd., Canada’s largest oil and gas services company, fell 4.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest lender by assets, declined 1.3 percent. Birchcliff Energy Ltd., a western Canadian oil and gas producer, plunged 21 percent after saying it’s no longer seeking a buyer after turning down two bids.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index retreated 74.50 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,339.36 in Toronto.

“Commodities are once again leading us down, even though commodity prices themselves, on an absolute basis, continue to be at very, very profitable levels for companies,” Barry Schwartz, a money manager at Baskin Financial Services Inc. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. The firm oversees about C$400 million ($400 million). “The market seems to be telling us that we’re in for a rough time going forward in terms of Europe, China and demand for these commodities.”

The benchmark equity gauge has fallen 1.8 percent in March through yesterday, heading for its first monthly decline of the year, as materials and energy shares have slipped on signs of slower growth in China and rising crude stockpiles.

Jobless Claims

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB commodity index decreased 1.8 percent today after the U.S. Labor Department reported 359,000 applications for jobless insurance last week, more than the 350,000 median forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey. Moritz Kraemer, the head of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor’s, said Greece probably will have to restructure its debt again, adding to global growth concerns.

Energy companies in the S&P/TSX declined, led by oil shares, as U.S. equities retreated and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the prospects are good for an accord between the U.S. and Europe to tap strategic reserves to curb price gains.

Trican Well Service fell 4.4 percent to C$14.44. The shares were cut to buy from action list buy at Toronto-Dominion Bank. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the country’s second-largest energy company by market value, decreased 1.1 percent to C$32.46.

Birchcliff Energy Ltd. plummeted 21 percent to C$7.01 after rejecting verbal and written offers in response to its Oct. 3 sale announcement. The Calgary-based company is no longer for sale, it said in a statement today.

Financial shares also declined on S&P’s Greece restructuring outlook and higher-than-forecast U.S. jobless claims. Royal Bank of Canada declined 1.3 percent to C$57.98. Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s second-largest lender, dropped 0.8 percent to C$84.39.