Canada Stocks Little Changed as Bank Gains Offset Miners

Canadian stocks were little changed, closing near a five-year high, as commodity companies tumbled on weaker-than-estimated export data from China while health-care and bank shares advanced.

Teck Resources Ltd. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. dropped at least 2.5 percent as copper prices posted the biggest two-session decline in 28 months. Legacy Oil & Gas Inc. and BlackPearl Resources Inc. retreated more than 2.1 percent as crude fell for the first time in three days. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce climbed to a six-year high as housing starts in Canada rose for the first time in four months.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index rose 2.98 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 14,302.06 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The index has gained 5 percent this year and closed at a five-year high on March 5.

“Most people are looking at China, which is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction given how unreliable the data is this time of the year due to the Chinese New Year,” said Bob Decker, fund manager at Aurion Capital Management in Toronto. The firm manages about C$6.6 billion ($5.9 billion). “We’re looking for a choppy market this year.”

China’s exports declined by 18.1 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest drop since August 2009, according to a March 8 report from the General Administration of Customs. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a median 7.5 percent increase.

The S&P GSCI Index, which tracks prices for 24 commodities, retreated 1 percent for the first decline in three days, closing at a three-week low.

Canadian Banks

Canadian Imperial rose 0.7 percent to C$94.56, the highest level since November 2007, and Toronto-Dominion Bank added 1 percent to C$51, a record high.

Financial stocks rose 0.2 percent as a group with seven of 10 industries in the S&P/TSX advancing on trading volume 23 percent lower compared with the 30-day average.

Canadian housing starts climbed 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 192,100 units in February, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said today. Economists forecast 190,000 starts. Multiple-unit starts rose 13 percent.

Catamaran Corp. jumped 2.8 percent to C$50.54 to pace gains among health-care stocks.

Bombardier Inc. rallied 4.6 percent to C$3.77 for a third day of gains.

Teck Resources, Canada’s largest diversified miner, slumped 2.5 percent to C$23.80, the lowest since July. First Quantum Minerals dropped 2.6 percent to C$19.58, a one-month low. Copper prices sank below $3 a pound for the first time since June today and the metal slumped 5.8 percent in the past two days, the most since October 2011.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., which is developing the Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine in Mongolia, tumbled 3.1 percent to C$4.38 and Thompson Creek Metals Co. slumped 6.1 percent to C$2.75. Raw-materials stocks declined 0.8 percent as a group.

BlackPearl Resources decreased 4.3 percent to C$2.45 and Legacy Oil & Gas fell 2.1 percent to C$6.63 as crude retreated 1.4 percent to a three-week low.

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