Canadian Stocks Pare Loss Amid Speculation on Europe Pact

Canadian stocks pared losses in the final hour of trading, sending the benchmark index higher for a third day, amid speculation European leaders were nearing an agreement on plans to halt contagion in the debt crisis.

Energy stocks rallied, outweighing a decline in raw-material companies as oil and gold fell. Progress Energy Resources Corp. surged 74 percent after agreeing to be bought by Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s state-owned oil and natural-gas company, for C$4.8 billion ($4.67 billion) in cash. Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank gained, pacing a recovery among financial shares.

The S&P/TSX gained 13.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,424.70, reversing an earlier drop of as much as 1.2 percent. The benchmark index is down 7.8 percent for the quarter.

Stocks trimmed declines today as German Chancellor Angela Merkel canceled a press briefing at a summit in Brussels as talks on a growth accord continued, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. After the market closed, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said leaders had agreed on a 120 billion euros ($149 billion) plan to stoke the economy and create jobs.

Energy stocks rallied following Progress Energy’s deal. The Calgary-based oil and natural gas producer jumped 74 percent to C$20.05. Petronas Chief Executive Officer Shamsul Azhar Abbas said March 30 he wants to expand his company’s presence in Canada and Australia. The company bought a stake in three of Progress Energy’s gas fields last year and agreed to explore development of a liquefied natural gas terminal to export the fuel.

Advantage Oil

Advantage Oil & Gas Ltd. advanced 5.3 percent to $2.96. Celtic Exploration Ltd. rose 7.2 percent to C$13.72, the highest level since May. Encana Corp., Canada’s biggest natural-gas producer, gained 6.7 percent to C$21.08.

Financial shares dropped 0.2 percent as a group, paring an earlier loss of as much as 1.4 percent. Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth-largest lender, rose 0.4 percent to C$55.52. Toronto-Dominion, the nation’s second-largest lender, advanced 0.1 percent to C$79.17.

Gold declined to the lowest in almost four weeks amid signs of slowing U.S. growth. The number of applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hovered last week near the highest level of the year, the Labor Department said.

Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest producer of the metal, dropped 0.4 percent to C$37.43. Goldcorp Inc. declined 2.8 percent to C$37.31, the lowest since May 29.

Silver Mine

Tahoe Resources Inc. plunged 23 percent to C$12.50. The developer of the Escobal silver mine in Guatemala tumbled after Mineweb reported that the government proposed taking stakes in mining companies operating in the country, citing newspaper Prensa Libre.

“High-level officials in Guatemala’s Ministry of Energy and Mines indicate the government has no intention of acquiring an interest in the Escobal project or other mining projects in the country,” the Reno, Nevada-based company said in a statement today.

Centerra Gold Inc. plunged 32 percent to C$6.72. The owner of the Kumtor mine in Kyrgyzstan said it believes a parliamentary resolution calling for changes to the agreements governing the project isn’t legally binding. The company dropped 26 percent on June 22 after the company said the parliamentary report alleged Centerra’s operations had caused environmental damage.

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