TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Wednesday, weighed down by falls in the shares of major banks, energy companies and miners as weakness in commodity markets tainted investor sentiment.
A rise in U.S. oil inventories pushed U.S crude CLc1 to a settlement below $50 a barrel for the first time since April. Brent also fell. [O/R]
Gold prices hit a five-year low, and copper and iron ore also struggled due to shrinking Chinese demand. [GOL/][MET/L][IRONORE/]
"The pressure from commodity-related assets is probably going to stay with us for a little longer," said Sid Mokhtari, director of institutional equity research at CIBC World Markets. "There's no real catalyst for them to get a lift and that's why we expect this doldrums or this stagnation to persist."
Those price drops pulled the Toronto index's energy sector down 1.1 percent and the mining sub-sector down 2.3 percent.
Pipeline company Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) was the index's most influential loser, down 3.3 percent to C$55.74. Oil producer Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was not far behind, declining 2.2 percent to C$31.06.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 69.12 points, or 0.48 percent, at 14,307.12.
CIBC's Mokhtari said he expected the index to touch lows from October and December last year, putting it in a range between 13,600 and 13,800, before buyers will re-emerge.
"Until then, this thing is going to be an orderly decline, a slow grind lower," he said.
Half of the index's 10 main groups were in negative territory, while decliners outnumbered advancing issues by 173 to 73, for a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the downside.
Five stocks posted new 52-week highs while 43 hit new lows.
"It's the summer doldrums, so there are few bulls around," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
"Technically we're oversold, we're due for at least the odd dead-cat bounce ... but I suspect this has got to wring itself out."
The index's materials group, home to mining companies, traded 0.9 percent lower. First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) fell 4.4 percent to C$13.37.
Financials, more than one-third of the index's weight, slipped 0.4 percent, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) off 0.7 percent at C$73.67.
Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) fell 5.6 percent to C$1.69. The struggling Canadian plane and train maker's CSeries jetliner program has been plagued with years of cost overruns and delays, while the company has made a long string of management changes over the past year.
Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Peter Galloway and David Gregorio