TSX slips to six-month low as resource stocks slide

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell to a six-month low on Thursday, tracking global markets that declined on concerns over the pace of economic growth, while the energy and materials groups were squeezed by lower prices for oil and gold.

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. Canada's main stock index was little changed on Monday as weakness in financial and energy shares offset gains in the materials sector. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 9.71 points, or 0.06 percent, to 15,160.42, its lowest close since Dec. 6.

The index has lost ground each day this week, and it closed on Thursday below its 200-day moving average for a second straight day.

“It’s pretty defensive ... the loss of momentum in tech has a lot of people rattled,” said Ian Scott, equity analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

Wall Street also closed lower as a recent selloff in technology stocks deepened.

Canada’s technology group pared recent losses to end 0.2 percent higher. But it accounts for just 2.5 percent of the TSX’s weight, much less than resource stocks.

The energy group retreated 1.7 percent as oil prices fell to a six-month low. The commodity was pressured by high global inventories and doubts over OPEC’s ability to implement production cuts as promised.

U.S. crude prices settled 27 cents lower at $44.46 a barrel.

Canadian Natural Resources fell 1.4 percent to C$36.84, while Cenovus Energy lost 4.4 percent to C$10.47.

The materials group, which includes miners, fertilizer and lumber companies, lost 0.8 percent as metal prices, including copper and gold, fell a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates.

Barrick Gold retreated 1.6 percent to C$20.76, while Teck Resources Ltd lost 3.75 percent to C$21.58 after it forecast a drop in its average realized price from the sale of steelmaking coal for the second quarter.

But losses for the TSX were narrowly based, with seven of the index’s 10 main groups ending higher.

The financial group, which has lost more than 6 percent since peaking in February, rose 0.3 percent, helped by a 0.4 percent gain for Toronto-Dominion Bank to C$64.99.

The banks “have sold off to a level now where I am starting to look at them a little bit more, as a Canadian investor who is less worried about a cataclysmic housing correction being right around the corner,” Scott said.

Resales of Canadian homes dropped 6.2 percent in May from April, with Toronto sales plunging 25.3 percent in the month as new housing policy changes sideswiped demand and new listings rose again.

Investors have also worried about how the troubles of alternative lender Home Capital Group Inc could affect the country’s real estate market.

Shares of Home Capital rose 12.7 percent to C$13.67 after the company reported late on Wednesday it had reached a settlement agreement with the Ontario Securities Regulator accepting responsibility for misleading investors about problems with its mortgage underwriting procedures.

Industrials rose 0.2 percent as railroad stocks gained ground.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Frances Kerry and Leslie Adler