Canadian stocks fell for a third day as gold companies tumbled after U.S. Federal Reserve officials said they may reduce economic stimulus “in coming months” as the economy improves.
Semafo Inc. lost 8.7 percent as the price of gold plummeted. Maple Leaf Foods Inc. fell 1 percent as the food producer was said to have drawn bids for its bread unit. Trican Well Service Ltd. added 1.7 percent after the pressure pumping company’s rating was upgraded by Raymond James.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index dropped 12.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,430.01 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The gauge has climbed 8 percent this year.
“There’s some uncertainty now whether the tapering will begin sooner,” Tim Lazaris, chief investment officer at Red Sky Capital Management Ltd., said by phone from Toronto. “Commodity prices are dropping here post the Fed minutes, primarily gold and that’s taking the materials sector down.”
Fed officials said they might reduce their $85 billion in monthly bond purchases “in coming months” as the economy improves, minutes of their last meeting show. Policy makers will probably pare that pace to $70 billion at their March 18-19 meeting, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey conducted Nov. 8. The U.S. is Canada’s biggest trading partner.
Five of 10 main S&P/TSX industries dropped on trading volume 1.1 percent above the 30-day average, with raw-materials sliding 2.2 percent.
The S&P/TSX Gold Index tumbled 3.8 percent, with all 24 members retreating. Gold for immediate delivery lost 2.5 percent to $1,244.20 an ounce, the lowest level since July 10. Speculation that policy makers may reduce monetary stimulus in upcoming months curbed demand for the metal as a hedge against inflation. Semafo plunged 8.7 percent to C$2.84 while Dundee Precious Metals Inc. dropped 8.5 percent to C$3.56.
Maple Leaf Foods fell 1 percent to C$16.43. The Toronto-based food producer has drawn bids for its bread unit from Grupo Bimbo SAB, Flowers Foods Inc. and several private-equity firms, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
Maple Leaf, which owns 90 percent of Canada Bread Co., said in October it would explore options for the stake, including a possible sale as it divests assets to focus on its meat business.
Energy producers gained 0.6 percent for the best group performance. Tourmaline Oil Corp. jumped 3.4 percent to $41.92.
Trican Well Service added 1.7 percent to C$12.40 after Raymond James equity analyst Andrew Bradford raised his rating of the pressure pump producer’s stock to outperform from market perform. Bradford made a similar upgrade to Calfrac Well Services Ltd. The provider of oilfield equipment gained 1.4 percent to C$31.60.
Air Canada climbed 1.8 percent to C$6.68 after the Montreal-based carrier began discussions with Cargojet, a Canadian freight company, to explore strategic commercial cooperation in an attempt to expand the reach of both carriers’ air cargo services domestically and internationally. The partnership would increase revenues and reduce operating costs, according to a statement released by the two companies today.