January 6, 2014 / 1:32 PM / in 4 years

TSX posts third straight decline as soft data drags

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slipped on Monday for a third straight session as signs of economic weakness emerged from different parts of the globe, weighing on shares of financial and industrial companies.

U.S. private sector economic activity growth slowed slightly in December, with a services sector reading also edging lower, according to an industry report.

A separate report said China’s services industry growth slowed sharply in 2013, adding to data released last week indicating weakness in the manufacturing sector in the world’s second-largest economy.

Offsetting some of the weakness, BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) shares jumped 5.2 percent to C$8.51 after the smartphone maker said it hired a former Sony Ericsson executive to head its loss-making devices business.

After recording a 9.6 percent increase in 2013, the Toronto market is down about 1 percent this year.

“We see some tepidness and weakness at the start of the year,” said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Stenner Investment Partners, a unit of Richardson GMP, who noted that investors were also cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data that will be released on Friday.

“Last year valuations expanded and this year the economy and earnings have to deliver on that valuation expansion,” he added.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 53.32 points, or 0.39 percent, at 13,495.54, after earlier touching 13,473.23, its lowest level since December 24.

Some investors say more pressure on commodity prices could weigh on gold and other materials stocks this year.

“We expect non-commodity related companies to have a fairly decent year in 2014,” said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.

Fund managers are watching the moves of central banks, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, very closely.

“The drums will be pounding for central banks to increase interest rates by late 2014,” Schwartz said.

Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on Monday.

Financials, the Toronto index’s most heavily-weighted sector, gave back 0.7 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) lost 1 percent to C$70.70, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) declined 1.1 percent to C$64.74.

Shares of industrial companies slipped 0.7 percent. Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO) dropped 1.4 percent to C$59.27.

But the materials sector, which includes mining stocks, advanced 0.5 percent. Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) climbed 1.4 percent to C$19.58.

In other corporate news, Kirkland Lake Gold Inc KGI.TO said it started a strategic review and may sell assets or shares. The stock shed 13.3 percent to C$2.60.

MBAC Fertilizer Corp MBC.TO said it had picked a new chief executive, news that helped drive its shares up 9.3 percent to C$1.65.

Editing by Nick Zieminski, G Crosse

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