TSX edges down, lower commodities weigh on resource stocks

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell slightly on Thursday as lower commodity prices weighed on energy and mining stocks, while financial sector stocks rose.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The index has rallied 18.5 percent since hitting an almost 3-1/2-year low in January. On Wednesday, it touched its highest in five months at 13,703.61.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 2.7 percent.

“The big story today is just the pullback in the gold stocks,” said Patrick Blais, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO fell 3.7 percent to C$19.81, while Goldcorp Inc G.TO was also down 3.7 percent at C$21.31.

Spot gold XAU= fell 1.4 percent as the U.S. dollar rose for the third straight day and world stocks climbed to 2016 highs.

Fertilizer producers also dragged, including a 5.3 percent drop in Agrium Inc AGU.TO to C$107.02 and a 2.4 percent decline in Potash Corp POT.TO to C$20.86 after several analysts downgraded their views on the stocks.

The energy group retreated 0.5 percent as oil prices fell amid skepticism that an upcoming meeting of major producers would do much to tighten the supply demand balance.

U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled at $41.50 a barrel, down 0.62 percent.

Shaw Communications Inc SJRb.TO declined 3.2 percent to C$23.54. The company posted a 3 percent rise in quarterly revenue as it added more retail Internet customers.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc VRX.TO fell 1.8 percent to C$41.66. Standard & Poor's downgraded its corporate credit rating after the drugmaker got a notice of default from bondholders as a result of a delay in filing its annual report.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 3.06 points, or 0.02 percent, to 13,668.29. Just three of the index's 10 main groups ended lower.

Financial sector stocks gained 0.7 percent, including a 0.9 percent rise in the shares of Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO to C$55.75.

The group moved higher in concert with U.S. financials after U.S. bank earnings were not as bad as feared, according to Blais.

Loblaw Companies Ltd L.TO rose near 2 percent to C$70.63. Blais expects the stock to deliver good earnings growth and returns.

Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO jumped near 7 percent to C$1.53 on speculation of a pending order for its aircraft.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and James Dalgleish