Pessimism reigns as economic gloom weighs on TSX

Fri May 29, 2015 5:08pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Friday, with heavyweight banks tipping the scales to the downside amid broad pessimism about domestic economic growth and the uncertain outlook for industries tied to energy.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 92.91 points, or 0.62 percent, at 15,014.09. Eight of the 10 main sectors were in the red, and the index gave up 1.2 percent for the week.

"We're still comfortable being underweight Canada," said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer for asset allocation at BMO Global Asset Management Canada. "The market has not fully accepted or discounted how weak earnings are going to be."

Canada's economy suffered its biggest contraction in nearly six years in the first quarter as the country grappled with a steep fall in oil prices, Statistics Canada said.

All six of the country's biggest banks beat earnings estimates this week, but only Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) shares gained on Friday, up 1.3 percent at C$65.40, as the No. 3 lender outlined a share buyback plan.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) shed 2.2 percent to C$54.15, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) lost 1.2 percent to C$79.07 and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) dropped 1.6 percent to C$75.91.

"They tried to put a mask on by increasing dividends and putting out pretty decent numbers, but when you look at the underlying loan books, you have to be a little bit concerned about what's going on on the energy side," Brian Pow, a research and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners in Calgary.

Energy companies ended flat overall, despite a 5 percent surge in crude prices, as investors showed caution.   Continued...

 
A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch