November 7, 2013 / 3:03 PM / 4 years ago

Commodity price drop takes TSX lower, insurers gain

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index dropped on Thursday after a surprise move to cut interest rates by the European Central Bank triggered a rally in the U.S. dollar that weighed on commodity prices, hitting shares of energy and mining companies.

A general view of the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The ECB, which cut interest rates to a record low, said it would prime banks with liquidity into 2015 to prevent the euro zone’s recovery from stalling as inflation tumbles.

Investors also processed a slew of earnings reports from top Canadian companies, as well as mixed data that showed U.S. economic growth accelerating in the third quarter but consumer spending expanding at the slowest rate in two years.

“We’ve had very good run in the last little while ... and we’re just having a bit of a pause as people digest some of the earnings,” said Julie Brough, vice president at Morgan Meighen & Associates. “People kind of question, ‘Can it get much better?'”

Brough is bullish about Canadian stocks, which have gained about 4 percent in the last month.

“I don’t see any headwinds between now and the end of the year,” she said. “We do have momentum, and we’re starting to see funds flow back into the equity market.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 86.21 points, or 0.64 percent, at 13,294.20. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.

Shares of energy companies led the decline, falling more than 1 percent, as oil prices dropped.

Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) gave back 1.6 percent to C$36.09, and Encana Corp (ECA.TO) dropped 1.8 percent to C$19.10.

But Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) climbed 0.4 percent, to C$32.61, after the oil producer’s third-quarter profit more than tripled as a result of record quarterly production and strong oil prices.

Two of Canada’s top retailers posted results.

Tim Hortons Inc THI.TO reported an 8 percent rise in quarterly profit as same-store sales improved slightly in the United States, pushing its shares up 0.3 percent to C$62.79.

Canadian Tire Corp Ltd (CTCa.TO) recorded a stronger-than-expected 11 percent rise in quarterly profit. The stock was little changed.

After quarterly statements from the country’s three biggest insurers, shares of Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) and Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) hit multi-year highs. Both companies posted better-than-expected results, citing stronger mutual fund sales and favorable market conditions.

Manulife jumped 2.7 percent to C$19.22, and Sun Life added 2.4 percent to C$36.27.

Shares of Great-West Lifeco (GWO.TO), whose third-quarter profit rose 1 percent, fell 0.5 percent to C$32.20.

Editing by David Gregorio

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