TSX slips as energy stocks, insurers weigh; gold miners jump

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended lower on Monday as energy stocks fell despite higher oil prices and as insurers lost ground with a pullback in bond yields, offsetting gains for gold miners as the precious metal bounced off a recent low.

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as weakness in financial and energy shares offset gains in the materials sector. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Energy stocks fell 2 percent, even as crude prices gained in volatile trade ahead of Wednesday’s OPEC meeting meant to cement a deal to help curb a global glut that has more than halved prices since 2014. [O/R]

“I think it’s going to be difficult for some smooth, coordinated agreement to be put in place right away,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 60.08 points, or 0.40 percent, at 15,015.36. Eight of its 10 main sectors fell.

Last week, the index advanced 1.4 percent, extending its rally since the U.S. election.

Financials fell 0.7 percent as bond yields declined and investors awaited fourth-quarter results this week from some of Canada’s major banks.

Sun Life Financial Inc fell 2.6 percent to C$51.67 and fellow insurer Manulife Financial Corp also lost 2.6 percent, to C$22.93.

“Some of this is just letting some of that enthusiasm out of the bond market,” Fehr said.

The recent surge in bond yields had supported the financial sector. Higher bond yields reduce the value of insurance companies’ liabilities and increase net interest margins of banks.

Fehr added that Canadian banks are facing headwinds including a persistently low Canadian interest rate outlook and a slowing housing market that may make them less attractive investments than U.S. peers.

Toronto-Dominion Bank lost 0.6 percent to C$63.93 and Royal Bank of Canada slipped 0.5 percent to C$89.27.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.8 percent, with Barrick Gold Corp jumping 3.4 percent to C$20.69.

Zinc soared to a nine-year high and lead hit a five-year peak as reports of more infrastructure investment in China and signs of strong property investment in the world’s top metals user sparked heavy buying.[MET/L][GOL/]

Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli