The Toronto stock market ended October trading sharply lower Thursday, amid major announcements from the oilpatch, earnings disappointments and uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s next move.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 94.07 points to 13,361.26, led by sliding gold stocks.
Despite the decline, the TSX closed at a 27-month high as the market enjoyed its best month all year, leaving the main index up 4.5 per cent for the month and 7.5 per cent year to date.
It was an active post market for one of Canada's biggest stocks: Barrick Gold Corp. Its U.S. shares fell about 4 per cent in extended trading after announcing it was selling $3-billion of stock to pay off debt. Shares will be priced at $18.35 (U.S.) and will be one of the largest offerings in Canadian history.
Earlier in the day, Barrick said it is cutting its capital spending budget by a further US$1 billion next year as a result of suspending construction at its troubled Pascua-Lama project located by the Argentina-Chile border. At the same time, the miner handed in adjusted earnings of 58 cents per share, seven cents better than estimates. Its shares closed 62 cents lower on the TSX to $20.28.
Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) was a major drag, down 54 cents or 10.23 per cent to $4.74 on very heavy volume of 27.2 million shares, as the transport giant posted adjusted net income of $165 million or nine cents per share, which was one cent below estimates. Revenue of $4.1 billion also missed analyst estimates.
“Their order backlog is up a little bit, but at the same time, order backlogs don’t produce anything until the equipment is completed and sold and delivered,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
The Canadian dollar rose as growth for August came in higher than economists had forecast. The loonie was up 0.52 of a cent to 95.9 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product grew by 0.3 per cent in August versus an expected rise of 0.2 per cent.
Suncor Energy Inc. announced that the $13.5-billion Fort Hills oilsands project will go ahead. The cost will be shared between Canada’s largest energy company and partners Total E&P Canada Ltd. and Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B).
Suncor also said it recorded net earnings of $1.69 billion, or $1.13 per common share, for the third quarter, compared with $1.54 billion, or $1.01 per common share a year ago. Suncor stock moved down 10 cents to $37.89 while Teck lost $1.41 to $27.90.
U.S. indexes were lower after the Fed left traders no wiser about when the central bank might start tapering its US$85 billion monthly bond purchasing program.
The Dow Jones industrials dropped 73.01 points to 15,545.75, the Nasdaq was down 10.91 points to 3,919.71 while the S&P 500 index lost 6.77 points to 1,756.54.
The Fed said it would maintain the program for now but hinted that tapering could occur earlier than many investors thought. There had been hopes that the Fed wouldn’t move until at least March, well after Janet Yellen has taken over the reins at the central bank.
Gold stocks were the biggest sector decliner, down 4.3 per cent while December bullion fell $25 to US$1,324.30 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) fell $1.07 to C$26.56.
Techs were also a drag as shares in business software company Open Text Corp. (TSX:OTC) fell $2.63 or 3.3 per cent to $76.62 even as the company more than doubled its quarterly profits to $30.6 million, or 52 cents per share.
The base metals sector was down 1.23 per cent as December copper lost two cents to US$3.30 a pound. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) dropped 18 cents to C$8.50.
The energy sector was down 0.3 per cent with December crude down 39 cents to US$96.38 following a tumble of almost $1.50 Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much bigger than expected rise in U.S. inventories last week.
Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) had $647 million of net income, or 76 cents per share, down from $1.04 billion or $1.22 a year earlier and below the estimate of 98 cents per share and its shares dropped 42 cents to C$45.53.
Financials were down a slight 0.1 per cent but was one of the star TSX performers, up over six per cent for the month and 18 per cent year to date with markets feeling a lot more comfortable that the Canadian housing sector isn’t coming in for a hard landing.
“I’m not too sure there are any worries about the housing market,” said Ketchen, adding there are other reasons bank stocks have become so popular with most of the big banks hitting fresh, 52-week highs this week.
“I think when you look at the dividend increases, earnings increases and the Canadian banking industry has a very, very strong reputation and people feel comfortable with (financials),” he said.