Canadian stocks fell the most in nine months after an unexpected slowdown in China’s economic growth spurred the biggest drop in four years for commodity shares.
Barrick Gold Corp., the largest producer of gold, tumbled 12 percent, the most since February 2009, as the metal sank below $1,400 an ounce. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. lost 4.6 percent as crude slipped to its lowest this year. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 4.6 percent after agreeing to sell natural gas fields for C$1 billion. Raw-material producers in the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index dropped 7.6 percent, the most since December 2008.
The S&P/TSX fell 332.71 points, or 2.7 percent, to 12,004.88 at 4 p.m. in Toronto, the largest loss since June. The benchmark Canadian equity gauge is down 3.5 percent this year. Trading volume was 54 percent higher than the 30-day average.
“China’s definitely not growing at 12 percent anymore, so that’s why you’re seeing all the commodities move off,” said Paul Harris, a fund manager with Avenue Investment Management in Toronto. He helps manage about C$300 million ($294 million). Speculation the Federal Reserve will pull back on stimulus has “caused a huge fall in the price of gold. There are so many people in there for speculative reasons, but now they’re getting out because it’s collapsing.”
China’s economy unexpectedly lost momentum in the first quarter, expanding 7.7 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That compares with the 8 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and 7.9 percent in the prior quarter.
Some policy makers among the U.S. Fed favor pulling back this year on $85 billion in monthly debt-buying as the U.S. economy recovers and equities reached a record.
The S&P GSCI index of 24 raw materials plunged as much as 2.6 percent to its lowest level since July 10. Shares of energy producers retreated 3.1 percent, reaching the lowest level since November.
Barrick Gold plunged 12 percent to C$20.30, its lowest close in more than 12 years. Goldcorp declined 5.6 percent to C$28.38, the lowest price since December 2008.
Gold futures for June delivery plummeted the most since 1980, falling 9.3 percent to settle at $1,361.10 an ounce. The gold price has slumped more than 20 percent since the record close in August 2011, meeting the common definition of a bear market and threatening to snap 12 straight years of gains.
Detour Gold Corp. slumped 25 percent to C$11.05 and Osisko Mining Corp. fell 21 percent to C$4.04. The S&P/TSX Gold Index dropped to a four-year low. All 30 stocks in the index declined.
Silver Wheaton Corp. lost 8.7 percent to C$24.48 as silver for May delivery dropped 11 percent to settle at $23.361 an ounce in New York, the lowest since September 2011.
Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s largest diversified miner, sank 7.1 percent to $26.15. First Quantum Minerals Ltd. lost 13 percent to C$15.58 as copper for May delivery slid 2.3 percent to settle at $3.273 a pound in New York.
Canadian Natural Resources dropped 4.6 percent to C$29.85 and Cenovus Energy Inc. retreated 4.6 percent to C$29.04. Crude for May delivery slipped 2.8 percent to settle at $88.71 a barrel in New York, the lowest since December.
Suncor, Canada’s largest energy producer, dropped 4.6 percent to C$27.50. The company agreed to sell its natural gas fields in southern and central Alberta to Centrica Plc, the largest U.K. household energy company, and state-run Qatar Petroleum for C$1 billion. The assets produce about 250 million cubic feet of gas a day this year, Suncor said in a statement.