TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slipped on Friday, with energy companies among the leading weights as driller Canadian Oil Sands COS.TO said unexpected maintenance could hurt its output.
The energy sector in Canada has performed well in recent weeks, seemingly boosted by the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine that could limit the availability of Russian commodity exports to Western markets.
But the threat of further escalation has also provoked a more cautious approach among investors.
“The overall scare of the conflict is really weighing on the market,” said Marcus Xu, a portfolio manager at MY Capital Management Corp in Vancouver.
“It’s hard to satisfy the market at the moment,” he added. “Expectations have been pretty high. But the Canadian market seems to be holding up pretty well.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the day down 20.68 points, or 0.14 percent, at 14,533.57. Eight of the 10 main index sectors ended lower, but the index posted a gain on the week of 0.2 percent.
The broad decline would have had a greater impact on the index if not for the jump in shares of business software company OpenText OTC.TO, which gained 6.5 percent to C$54.11 after reporting a solid quarterly profit and increasing its dividend.
On the other side of the ledger, Canadian Oil Sands shares fell 3.6 percent to C$23.25 after reporting it cut its projected annual output owing to the upkeep. It said it would also revise overall 2014 guidance at the end of the month.
“The fact is it goes with the territory with this stock. People shouldn’t get too excited about it,” said Gavin Graham, chief strategy officer at Integris Pension Management Corp.
Graham said many of Canada’s biggest resource stocks had appreciated significantly - the sub-index .SPTTEN was up 20 percent since the start of February - and that some profit-taking was inevitable.
Global oil prices fell from recent highs but escalating tension between major oil producer Russia and the West over Ukraine served to heighten fears of supply disruption that put a floor under declines. <O/R>
“Political uncertainty is not good for stock markets in general in the short term,” Graham said. “Longer term however it might actually be good news for Canada because it’s got a lot of the same materials and commodities that Russia has and it’s a reliable supplier.”
Barrick’s founder and outgoing chairman, Peter Munk, criticized potential takeover target Newmont Mining (NEM.N) in an interview with the National Post newspaper, saying the U.S. miner is “not shareholder-friendly.
Talks between the pair broke down last week, but sources familiar with the matter said some talks between lower-level representatives have since resumed.
Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by G Crosse, Chizu Nomiyama and W Simon