TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index closed slightly lower on Tuesday, hurt by widespread declines in the materials, energy and financial sectors, after a crucial vote in Cyprus threatened to push the country into default.
Worries that Cyprus will reignite Europe’s debt crisis took a toll on oil prices, which slumped to a three-month low and were a drag on the energy sector. <O/R>
Cyprus’s parliament overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout. The rejection threw euro zone efforts to rescue the latest casualty of the currency area’s debt crisis into disarray. <MKTS/GLOB>
“The news from Cyprus is bringing Europe back to the forefront in investors’ minds,” said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of Richardson GMP. “There’s some headline risk coming out of Europe.”
Zohny said his concern was the economic situation in Cyprus could give investors an excuse to sell.
The developments from the island revived broader concerns about the euro zone economies and got some analysts talking about spillover consequences.
“The long-term repercussions are very, very serious,” said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy. “Canadian investors should be concerned about the knock-on effects (on the euro zone).”
However, supporting the market was data that showed groundbreakings for U.S. homes rose in February and that new permits for construction climbed to the highest level since 2008, a sign the housing recovery there is gathering steam.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 7.89 points, or 0.06 percent, at 12,773.87.
Still, market strategists expect Canadian stocks will rise 8 percent this year, a Reuters poll found, with an improving global economy expected to boost the badly-lagging shares of natural resource companies. <EPOLL/CA>
Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on Tuesday.
Energy shares fell 0.4 percent. Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) declined 1.3 percent to C$32.34. However, pipeline company TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) added 1.2 percent to C$49.49 and had the biggest positive influence on the market.
The materials group, which includes mining stocks, slipped 0.3 percent. A nearly 5 percent fall in Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO to C$28.45 and a 5 percent decline in First Quantum (FM.TO) to the C$20.35 weighed on the sector.
A rise in gold prices, which touched a 2-1/2 week high as their attraction as a safe haven increased on the Cyprus concerns, softened the blow a little by lifting gold stocks.
Shares of Rona Inc RON.TO, a home-improvement retailer and distributor, climbed 4 percent to C$10.98 after it said Metro Inc (MRU.TO) executive Robert Sawyer will take over as its chief executive as it looks to turnaround its business.
Graham said he views Sawyer’s experience at grocer Metro as a positive. “He comes with a good pedigree. He understands the Québec market, as well as the Anglophone market.”
Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc LLL.TO fell 2.6 percent to C$65.74. Analysts trimmed their expectations on the clothing maker a day after it warned that a
Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Tim Dobbyn