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Canada Stocks Little Changed as Insurers Offset Commodity Slump

Canadian stocks were little changed, after fluctuating between gains and losses, as a rally in insurers offset a retreat in materials producers sparked by data showing slower growth in Chinese manufacturing.

Manulife Financial Corp. and Sun Life Financial Inc. jumped more than 2.9 percent to pace a rally in financial shares. Teck Resources Ltd. and Lundin Mining Corp. dropped at least 1.6 percent as copper slumped a third day. Goldcorp Inc. and Eldorado Gold Corp. slid more than 4.3 percent as the metal’s price declined. Rogers Communications Inc. fell 3.2 percent after reporting fewer new subscribers than estimated.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index rose less than 1 points to 12,090.94 at 4 p.m. in Toronto, erasing earlier losses of as much as 0.5 percent. Trading volume was 12 percent below the 30-day average.

The S&P/TSX briefly slumped as much as 0.3 percent by 1:10 p.m. after a posting on the Associated Press Twitter account said there had been explosions at the White House and President Barack Obama had been injured. The S&P 500 erased a 1 percentage point gain, wiping out $136 billion from the index. Markets recovered within 3 minutes after the news service said its Twitter account had been hacked.

“I looked at it and thought, ’What should I do, should I try and grab something?’ And a second later it was back to where it was,” said Barry Schwartz, fund manager with Baskin Financial Services Inc. in Toronto. He helps manage about C$500 million ($487 million). “Had this been true it would’ve dropped a lot more than 120 points, it would’ve dropped five or 10 percent.”

Insurers Gain

Energy and financial stocks contributed most to gains in the S&P/TSX as seven of 10 industries advanced. Manulife jumped 3.1 percent to C$14.47. Sun Life increased 2.9 percent to C$27.39. Toronto-Dominion Bank added 0.4 percent to C$80.88.

“The Canadian banks have been hit pretty hard here for just about a month now,” said Gareth Watson, vice president of investment management and research with Richardson GMP Ltd. in Toronto. His firm manages about C$16 billion. “Perhaps people are sniffing around and looking to pick them up.”

The S&P/TSX Financials Index has fallen as much as 2.5 percent this month, headed for the lowest monthly close since December 2012.

TransCanada Corp., which is trying to build the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver Alberta crude oil to the Gulf Coast, climbed 2.3 percent to C$49.71 after American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said he believes Obama will approve the pipeline this year.

China Growth

Stocks retreated earlier as data showed China’s manufacturing is expanding at a slower pace this month on weakness in global and domestic demand. The preliminary reading of 50.5 for a Purchasing Managers’ Index released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics compared with a final 51.6 for March. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The S&P/TSX Materials Index has plunged 19 percent this month, on pace for the worst monthly drop since October 2008.

Goldcorp lost 3 percent to C$28.44 and Eldorado Gold Corp. declined 4.3 percent to C$7.29 as gold for June delivery slumped 0.9 percent to settle at $1,408.80 an ounce in New York. Gold mining companies sank 2.6 percent as 29 of 30 gold stocks declined.

Teck Resources

Teck Resources decreased 1.6 percent to C$25.60 and Lundin lost 1.8 percent to C$3.84 as copper fell to an 18-month low, down 1.3 percent to $3.104 a pound in New York. Teck also reported adjusted first quarter earnings of 56 Canadian cents a share, ahead of the average estimate of 38 cents from 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Rogers Communications Inc. declined 3.2 percent to C$50.40 as Canada’s largest wireless operator added fewer subscribers in the first quarter than analysts expected. Rogers signed 32,000 customers to contracts last quarter, compared with estimates for 42,000.

Colin Moore, analyst with Credit Suisse, and Robert Bek, analyst with CIBC World Markets, each lowered Rogers to the equivalent of a hold while maintaining price targets of C$52 and C$53, respectively.

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