TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slid on Wednesday, led by mining and financial shares, as a slew of weak manufacturing reports raised global growth fears, but hopes of further stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve were unfulfilled.
The U.S. central bank dashed expectations among some investors by taking no new measures, while Fed officials acknowledged the American economy had “decelerated somewhat” from the last time the bank’s policy committee met in June.
Risk assets have rallied lately and the S&P 500 .SPX .INX posted its biggest two-day percentage gain of the year to close out last week on increased expectations the Fed would engage in another round of bond-buying, or quantitative easing, to stimulate growth.
“U.S. stocks are trending higher so there is reluctance (for the Fed) to try to stand against the trend,” said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics.
Canada’s resource-heavy index was led lower by the heavily weighted materials sector, which fell 1.1 percent as gold and copper extended losses after the Fed statement. <GOL/> <MET/L>
The most influential decliners included Potash Corp (POT.TO), which fell 1.1 percent to C$43.92, Goldcorp Inc (G.TO), down 1.3 percent at C$35.74, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), off 1 percent at C$32.68 and Kinross Gold (K.TO), which tumbled 4.4 percent to C$8.01.
Mining stocks were also hurt by weak manufacturing data -- at home and abroad -- that showed global demand weakened last month.
The euro zone’s manufacturing sector contracted for the 11th straight month in July, while China’s official factory purchasing managers’ index fell to an eight-month low of 50.1 in July, suggesting the sector is barely growing.
In North America, U.S. manufacturing contracted for a second consecutive month and Canada’s RBC Purchasing Managers’ Index posted its first decline in six months.
“We got another round of global data today where we saw PMIs across the board mostly contract and that’s evidence of the weak global backdrop,” said Smith.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 46.18 points, or 0.4 percent, at 11,618.53.
Energy shares, which climbed 0.4 percent, helped pare some losses on higher oil prices after data on Wednesday showed U.S. crude oil inventories slumped last week, far more than forecast. <O\R>
Talisman Energy TLM.TO led gains, jumping more than 7 percent to C$13.31, despite the independent oil producer reporting a 72 percent fall in second-quarter profit on Wednesday. Talisman has been mentioned as a possible next target in the aftermath of CNOOC Ltd’s (0883.HK) $15.1 billion friendly bid for Nexen Inc NXY.TO.
Following the Fed disappointment, attention now turns to a European Central Bank decision on Thursday. ECB President Mario Draghi heightened speculation of further bank purchases of Italian and Spanish bonds when he said last week that he would do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro.”
“The ECB is much more important in terms of trying to find some stability in Europe,” said John Hughes, senior mining analyst at Desjardins Securities.
Canadian financial shares slid 0.7 percent, led by top life insurers. Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) -- Canada’s largest life insurer -- was down 2.6 percent at C$10.49.
Intact Financial Corp (IFC.TO) tumbled 3.1 percent to C$62.46, despite the property and casualty insurer reporting a 90 percent jump in operating profit for the second quarter on Wednesday.
In other earnings news, shares of Maple Leaf Foods (MFI.TO) jumped 7.2 percent to C$10.72 after the food processor reported a higher second-quarter profit on Wednesday as it reaped the benefits of price increases for some products and an ongoing effort to modernize its meat operations.
Catamaran Corp CCT.TO shares rose 4.8 percent to C$89.28 after the pharmacy benefit manager, formerly known as SXC Health Solutions, reported a 27 percent rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday.
Editing by James Dalgleish