TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slipped to its lowest in more than two weeks on Monday after sluggish data raised concerns about half of the global economic recovery and caused declines in the energy and financial sectors.
Weakness in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO), following a downgrade of the stock by Goldman Sachs, also weighed on the market.
U.S. manufacturing activity contracted in May for the first time in six months as new orders fell and there was less demand for exports. Data also showed euro-zone manufacturing contracted last month at a slightly slower pace, while Asian factories lost momentum. <MKTS/GLOB>
“Overall world growth is going to be quite slow, subject to crises from one direction or the other,” said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. “We are probably in a period equivalent to the Great Depression, that deleveraging phase, without a lot of the suffering.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 40.62 points, or 0.32 percent, at 12,609.80, but earlier slipped to 12,570.91, its lowest since May 17.
“There’s not a lot of confidence. It’s very nervous market,” Cockfield said. “We’re into a bit of the summer doldrums here.”
“Money managers are absolutely terrified of being caught in the market if it decides to sell off,” he added
Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
The weak data caused a slump in the price of the U.S. dollar, triggering gains in the price of bullion, as investors hunted for safe havens. <GOL/>
“The gold sector has bottomed,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. “At long last even the gold stocks are participating. That’s always an encouraging sign.”
While the gold group has been hit the most this year, falling about 31 percent, it climbed about 1.3 percent on Monday.
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) advanced 0.8 percent to C$21.96.
Western Potash Corp WPX.TO fell as much as 12 percent after the mining company sold a nearly one-fifth stake to a joint venture of two Chinese companies, requiring a new issue of shares.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, stumbled 0.2 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) was down 1.1 percent, at C$60.70.
Energy shares gave back 0.5 percent, thanks to the weakness in Canadian Natural. The stock lost 2.1 percent to C$30.24 and played one of the biggest roles in leading the market lower.
The country’s telecom watchdog said Canadians will be able to cancel their cellphone contracts after two years without penalty, instead of the three years that is the industry standard now, under a new mandatory wireless code.
Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Chris Reese and Bob Burgdorfer