Stocks in Toronto posted their fourth losing session in a row, with the S&P/TSX composite index recording a triple-digit loss of 118 points, or 1 per cent, to 11,811, led by a sharp fall in gold, utility, and energy shares.
The steep correction has erased nearly 400 points, or 3.3 per cent, of the market’s value over the past week and put the index into negative territory for the year to date. Investors have been beset by a range of worries, including figures released Thursday indicating that Europe has again slipped into recession, the possibility of a contraction in the U.S. due to the fiscal cliff, and slow growth in China.
The Dow Jones industrial average flirted with gains and losses throughout the session, but lost altitude near the close and ended down 29 points or 0.2 per cent. The New York decline was led by retailing giant Wal-Mart, which tumbled $2.61 U.S., or 3.7 per cent, after reporting revenue that fell short of forecasts, raising concern about the state of the global economy.
Fears over growth also hammered commodity prices, which are among the investments most sensitive to the economic outlook, with gold futures closing down $16.30, or nearly 1 per cent, at $1,713.80 an ounce, with oil also falling 1 per cent to settle at $85.45 in New York.
“Growth concerns continue to weigh on sentiment,” commented Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note to clients.
In corporate developments, BP agreed to pay $4.5-billion in fines and plead guilty to charges over the blowout at its Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 that led to one of the worst oil spills in the United States. BP shares rose 15 cents to $40.31, as traders welcomed a firm figure on the company’s financial liability over charges due to the spill.
Turning to action on the Toronto market, shares in Poseidon Concepts, a fracking fluids provider, were pulverized by investors after reporting third-quarter earnings that missed expectations due to slowing activity in the U.S. Midwest. The shares sagged $8.22 (Canadian), or 62 per cent, the largest percentage decline on the TSX, as disappointed investors headed for the exits.
The heavily weighted materials sector, which includes gold miners, tumbled nearly 3 per cent, with weakness in many big-name producers. Goldcorp, Yamana and Eldorado Gold were among the most actively traded issues and posted losses of more than 2.8 per cent.
Iamgold stabilized after the gold producer projected lower output next year. At its worst, the stock was down to $11.17 during the session, but a call by BMO Nesbitt Burns that the decline was overdone helped spur some buying. The stock closed down 17 cents to $11.81.
Progress Energy advanced 59 cents, or 3 per cent, on hopes that Malaysia’s Petronas will be able to complete a takeover that must receive federal approval as being of net benefit to Canada.
Financial stocks were weak. Bank stocks in coming days will be reporting fourth-quarter earnings. The results are expected to be well above levels of a year ago, but down from this year’s third quarter. Both the Bank of Montreal and the CIBC closed with losses of 1 per cent.