CANADA STOCKS-Commodity price drop takes TSX lower, insurers gain

Thu Nov 7, 2013 4:50pm EST

* TSX falls 86.21 points, or 0.64 percent, to 13,294.20
    * Eight of 10 main index sectors decline
    * Canadian Natural, Tim Hortons higher after results
    * Manulife, Sun Life jump on strong earnings

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped
on Thursday after a surprise move to cut interest rates by the
European Central Bank triggered a rally in the U.S. dollar that
weighed on commodity prices, hitting shares of energy and mining
companies.
    The ECB, which cut interest rates to a record low, said it
would prime banks with liquidity into 2015 to prevent the euro
zone's recovery from stalling as inflation tumbles.
 
    Investors also processed a slew of earnings reports from top
Canadian companies, as well as mixed data that showed U.S.
economic growth accelerating in the third quarter but consumer
spending expanding at the slowest rate in two years.
 
    "We've had very good run in the last little while ... and
we're just having a bit of a pause as people digest some of the
earnings," said Julie Brough, vice president at Morgan Meighen &
Associates. "People kind of question, 'Can it get much better?'"
    Brough is bullish about Canadian stocks, which have gained
about 4 percent in the last month.
    "I don't see any headwinds between now and the end of the
year," she said. "We do have momentum, and we're starting to see
funds flow back into the equity market."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 86.21 points, or 0.64 percent, at
13,294.20. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the
red.
    Shares of energy companies led the decline, falling more
than 1 percent, as oil prices dropped. 
    Suncor Energy Inc gave back 1.6 percent to C$36.09,
and Encana Corp dropped 1.8 percent to C$19.10.
    But Canadian Natural Resources Ltd climbed 0.4
percent, to C$32.61, after the oil producer's third-quarter
profit more than tripled as a result of record quarterly
production and strong oil prices. 
    Two of Canada's top retailers posted results. 
    Tim Hortons Inc reported an 8 percent rise in
quarterly profit as same-store sales improved slightly in the
United States, pushing its shares up 0.3 percent to C$62.79.
 
    Canadian Tire Corp Ltd recorded a
stronger-than-expected 11 percent rise in quarterly profit. The
stock was little changed. 
    After quarterly statements from the country's three biggest
insurers, shares of Manulife Financial and Sun Life
Financial Inc hit multi-year highs. Both companies
posted better-than-expected results, citing stronger mutual fund
sales and favorable market conditions. 
    Manulife jumped 2.7 percent to C$19.22, and Sun Life added
2.4 percent to C$36.27.
    Shares of Great-West Lifeco, whose third-quarter
profit rose 1 percent, fell 0.5 percent to C$32.20.
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