Canadian Stocks Fall as Oil Prices Slump Amid ECB Stimulus Plan

Canadian stocks fell, retreating from an all-time high, as gold and oil slumped after the European Central Bank unexpectedly cut interest rates and announced a bond-buying program.

Manulife Financial Corp. dropped 1.4 percent after agreeing to purchase the Canadian operations of Standard Life Plc for about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion). Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. gained 3.5 percent for a third straight advance.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index fell 80.84 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,576.79 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The gauge closed at a record 15,657.63 yesterday.

The Canadian equities benchmark has surged 14 percent this year, making it the second-best performer among developed equity markets behind Denmark. Trading volume in the S&P/TSX was 9 percent higher than the 30-day average today.

The ECB cut interest rates and will start buying assets, easing the flow of funding for the region’s economy while holding back for now on larger-scale action. In committing cash to the market for asset-backed securities, Mario Draghi is making good on his pledge to help rekindle an asset class that can funnel loans to the real economy and ease funding conditions for banks.

Life Insurers

Manulife, Canada’s largest life insurer, slipped 1.4 percent to C$22.05, the biggest drop in a month. The firm’s acquisition of Standard Life’s Canadian business will enhance the company’s ability to increase its dividend and add 3 cents annually to earnings per share over the next three years, Manulife Chief Executive Officer Donald Guloien said on a conference call yesterday.

Detour Gold Corp. sank 4.9 percent to C$12.09 and Semafo Inc. dropped 7.4 percent to C$4.51. Gold for December delivery lost 0.6 percent to $1,263.10 an ounce in New York. Silver Standard Resources Inc. plunged 8.6 percent to C$8.75.

Painted Pony Petroleum Ltd. decreased 6.2 percent to C$13.26 to pace declines in the S&P/TSX Energy Index. Crude for October delivery dropped 1.1 percent in New York as refineries reduced operating rates.

Couche-Tard climbed 3.5 percent to C$36.70, extending a record, after CIBC World Markets Inc. analyst Perry Caicco raised his rating for the convenience store operator to sector outperform, the equivalent of a buy. He has a 12-month price target of C$44 for Couche-Tard.

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