TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended lower on Friday after a sharp late sell-off, with financial and industrial stocks weighing, and Research In Motion RIM.TO falling more than 7 percent after a BlackBerry service outage.
Miners, utilities and oil companies rose on a rebound in crude oil and bullion prices but the rest of the Toronto Stock Exchange’s main sectors slipped as investors displayed a case of end-of-the-week nerves.
“It’s remarkable how low the volumes are these days and no one wants to be long or exposed over the weekend,” said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy, citing jitters over potential shock events such as military strikes in the Middle East.
“In the event something happens in Iran or some other potential black swan...if something were to happen the liquidity is just not there,” he said.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was the single biggest weight on the index, down 1.3 percent at C$55.99. Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO) continued a fall started on Thursday, ending down 1.6 percent at C$86.02.
The Toronto exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 25.65 points, or 0.21 percent, at 12,383.60. The index traded in positive territory for all but the last minutes of the session. It fell 0.9 percent in the week.
“The biggest problem is that there’s a lethargy by investors at this stage,” said Ron Meisels, technical analyst and president of Phases & Cycles in Montreal. “For the long term, this is fantastic because if we had euphoria and contentment and belief, then I would have to turn bearish immediately.”
Banks and real estate investments trusts were undermined by worries that central banks seemed willing to pump almost unlimited stimulus money into the global economy to bolster growth.
But recent central bank stimulus measures have proved a windfall for Canada’s resource stocks, particularly gold miners, which gained 0.6 percent as a group on Friday and are up more than 16 percent in the past month.
“The helicopters are flying to the rescue,” Graham said. “That means people are jumping on the risk-on trade, and by the way, they’ve underperformed by a mile, and gold itself is running, so therefore there ought to be some catch up by the gold miners.”
Major producer Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) led the charge, gaining 0.8 percent to C$45.76, and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) added 0.5 percent to C$41.62 as the precious metal rose above $1,780 an ounce for the first time since late February.
Expectations that easier monetary policy would boost liquidity, keep long-term interest rates low, and stoke inflation fueled bullion buying. <GOL/>
Shares in Research In Motion RIM.TO fell 7.4 percent to C$6.25 - just one cent shy of their lowest level since 2003 - after the company suffered service problems in Europe, just as rival Apple Inc started selling its new iPhone around the world.
Oil companies gained, with Crescent Point Energy Corp (CPG.TO) up 4.4 percent to C$45.70 and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) adding 0.5 percent to C$32.24, as concerns about crude supplies boosted the price of oil even as lackluster global economic growth kept demand subdued. <O/R>
Investors said the feel-good effects of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus moves last week were still present in the market, and that it would take a major negative shock to offset that.
“We had the wedding last week, opened the presents, and now the couple is on their honeymoon,” said Baskin Financial portfolio manager Barry Schwartz. “There is not a lot of news to focus on until they’re back from the honeymoon.”
Additional reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Peter Galloway