Canada Stocks Close Little Changed Amid Second Weekly Advance

  • Raw-material shares weigh while energy producers climb
  • Concordia Healthcare rallies on takeover speculation

Canadian equities were little changed as lower metals prices weighed on commodity producers, offsetting gains in energy and in health-care companies as takeover speculation increased.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index closed less than 0.1 percent lower at 13,873.98 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The benchmark gauge capped its second straight weekly increase of at least 1.7 percent. The Canadian stock market remains the second best-performing developed market in the world this year, with the S&P/TSX up 6.6 percent.

Investors also assessed mixed economic data. A report today showed Canada’s annual inflation rate slowed for a second month in March to 1.3 percent, led by cheaper gasoline and smaller mark-ups at auto dealers. In separate data, Canadian retail sales had a surprise gain in February, led by motor vehicle dealers.

The resource-dominate S&P/TSX remains closely linked to moves in commodity prices, as a rebound in producers has fueled a 17 percent recovery since the Jan. 20 low. Oil futures added 1.3 percent in New York, bringing this week’s gain to 8.3 percent. The International Energy Agency reiterated on Thursday it expects non-OPEC output to decline by about 700,000 barrels a day this year, which would be the sharpest drop in a quarter century.

Energy producers increased amid the group’s best five-day stretch in seven weeks. Cenovus Energy Inc. and Encana Corp. both rallied more than 3.6 percent on Friday. Health-care companies jumped 5.3 percent, the most out of 10 groups in the S&P/TSX. Concordia Healthcare Corp. rose 6 percent after reports that Blackstone Group LP is considering a takeover of the Toronto-based company.

Among the biggest winners on Friday, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. advanced 7.3 percent for a fifth day of gains, the longest since July. The company is said to be in talks to hire Perrigo Co.’s chief executive officer to replace outgoing CEO Michael Pearson. Valeant said in March that Pearson would leave once a replacement was found, part of a broader overhaul that included adding activist investor Bill Ackman to its board.

Material companies sank 1.8 percent, as gold in the spot market retreated 1.6 percent to $1,230 an ounce. Semafo Inc. declined 4.4 percent, while Barrick Gold Corp. slipped 1.4 percent. Miner HudBay Mineral Inc. rallied the most in the S&P/TSX today, up 6.7 percent as prices for copper and zinc advanced.

Six of the ten groups in the S&P/TSX fell, with raw-materials posting the steepest declines, followed by technology and consumer staples companies.

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