CANADA STOCKS-TSX slides as stimulus hopes dim; Rona caps losses
* TSX down 50.32 pts, or 0.4 pct, at 11,707.56 * Energy shares falls with commodities prices * U.S. data dims Fed stimulus hopes * Rona Inc up 19 pct after takeover bid By Jon Cook TORONTO, July 31 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Tuesday as a drop in commodities prices dragged down energy and mining shares after U.S. economic data dimmed hopes that the Federal Reserve would announce new stimulus measures at its policy meeting this week. A more than 19 percent surge in the shares of home-improvement retailer Rona Inc after a takeover bid from a U.S. rival helped limit losses. Equities have rallied recently on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank would announce new measures to stimulate growth at their policy meetings this week. The Fed begins its two-day meeting on Tuesday, and the ECB will meet on Thursday. But better-than-expected U.S. housing and manufacturing data on Tuesday helped lower expectations the Fed would announce new stimulus plans when it issues its policy statement on Wednesday. Single-family home prices rose for the fourth month in a row in May, and the pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest picked up in July. However, government data on Tuesday showed spending by American consumers fell in June for the first time in nearly a year. "The numbers are not good enough to dance from the rooftops and they're not bad enough for full-scale, all-hands-on-deck-type money printing," said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services. Brokers and traders also cited pressure from news that Germany's Finance Ministry reiterated its view that there is no need to grant a banking license to the euro zone's new bailout fund. Such a move could enable the fund to buy large amounts of debt issued by troubled euro zone economies. Around noon (1600 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 50.32 points, or 0.4 percent, at 11,707.56. Losses were led by the powerhouse energy sector, which slid 1.2 percent as U.S. oil prices retreated from earlier gains on the reduced prospects of more Fed easing. The biggest decliners included Enbridge Inc, which fell 2.2 percent to C$40.89, Cenovus Energy, down 1.8 percent to C$30.59, and Suncor Energy, down 1.5 percent to C$30.92. "It's remarkable how oversold and unloved the commodities sector is," said Schwartz. Heavily weighted materials, which includes miners, sank 0.8 percent. Potash Corp fell 1 percent to C$44.55, while top gold miner Barrick Gold edged down 0.6 percent to C$32.89. On a positive note for resource companies, shares of Inmet Mining Corp rose 5 percent to C$40 a day after the Canadian base metal miner reported a 74 percent increase in second-quarter profit. Rona also helped limit losses. Shares of the struggling Canadian retailer were up more than 19 percent at C$14.16 after the company rejected American rival Lowe's Cos Inc's C$1.8-billion ($1.8 billion) bid. "This is a takeover that has been talked about ever since Lowe's stepped into Canada many years ago," said Schwartz. "Any investor who has bought Rona's stock over the past couple years has got their head handed to them. My mind is boggled as to why Rona is not accepting the deal." Boucherville, Quebec-based Rona has struggled as Home Depot and Lowe's have made inroads into its home turf. Canadian financial shares were flat as banks were still optimistic that ECB President Mario Draghi could announce at the bank's Thursday meeting plans to lower Spanish and Italian borrowing costs by buying those countries' bonds. Bank of Nova Scotia led gains, rising 0.6 percent to C$52.55. Sun Life Financial shares climbed 1.1 percent to C$21.76. The Canadian life insurer is due to report second-quarter results next week.
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