Bloomberg News

Canadian Stocks Advance as Greece Approves Austerity Plan

February 13, 2012

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian stocks rose, led by energy and financial companies, after Greece approved austerity plans to secure rescue funds. Mining companies’ shares fell as the bailout measure eroded the appeal of gold as a haven.

Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest producer of the metal, lost 0.6 percent, while Goldcorp Inc., the second-biggest producer by market value, fell 0.5 percent. Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s largest base-metals company, fell 2.3 percent as copper declined on concern demand from China may falter. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the country’s second-biggest energy company by market value, rose 1.1 percent as oil recovered from a three-day low on concern sanctions against Iran will crimp supply.

The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index gained 9.3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,398.69 in Toronto.

“The fact that they took the bitter pill and are going to accept the austerity is puts to bed the uncertainty that the market always has trouble dealing with,” Barry Schwartz, a money manager at Baskin Financial Services Inc. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. The firm oversees about C$400 million ($400 million). “Today was another one of those days where Canadian markets seem to lag and seem not to be paying attention to the news around the world. It should’ve been a much more positive day.”

The index snapped a seven-week rally last week on concern that plans to help Greece avoid default were unraveling and industrial production growth would slow in China. The index has gained 3.7 percent this year through today as falling U.S. unemployment signaled Canada’s biggest trade partner was weathering the European debt crisis.

Financial companies rallied with global shares as Germany and the European Commission welcomed Greek approval of the austerity steps demanded for a financial lifeline, suggesting European finance chiefs will pull Greece back from the brink when they meet in two days.

Bank of Nova Scotia, the country’s third-largest lender by assets, gained 0.3 percent to C$52.47. Manulife Financial Corp., the country’s biggest insurer, advanced 2 percent to C$11.98.

Oil rallied on concern that Iranian crude supplies will be disrupted. Companies controlling more than 100 supertankers said they would stop loading cargoes from Iran, tightening sanctions on OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

Canadian Natural Resources rose 1.1 percent to C$38.17. Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest partner in Syncrude Canada Ltd., rallied 2.7 percent to C$22.59. Nexen Inc., an oil and gas producer with operations on five continents, gained 1.7 percent to C$22.59.

The S&P/TSX Gold Index fell for a seventh straight day as the chance Greece will win another international bailout improved and eroded the appeal of the precious metal.

“Ever since the resolution of austerity measures in Greece and Europe, people are looking at whether there will be more easing,” Timothy Lazaris, chief executive officer of Red Sky Capital Management Ltd. in Toronto, which oversees C$54 million ($54 million), said in a telephone interview. “There would’ve been a view that the answer is yes, which would’ve been good for gold, and now I think the market’s turned the sentiment negative.”

Goldcorp declined 0.5 percent to C$45.70. Great Basin Gold Ltd., a prospector with operations in South Africa and Nevada, fell 4.1 percent to 94 Canadian cents.

Barrick lost 0.6 percent to C$47.97. The company plans to sell its 20 percent stake in Highland Gold Mining Ltd., the Russian miner part-owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Millhouse Capital, after output stagnated.

Copper fell for a second day as climbing stockpiles signaled slackening demand in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer.

Mercator Minerals Ltd., an operator of an Arizona mine, declined 3.4 percent to C$1.69. Copper and zinc producer Inmet Mining Corp. slipped 3.3 percent to C$65.77.

Teck fell 2.3 percent to C$39.30. The zinc and coal producer may have bought a 2.89 percent stake in Fortescue for A$480 million ($515 million), the Australian Financial Review reported, citing unidentified people. Marcia Smith, a spokeswoman for Teck, declined to comment on the report, citing company policy.

Pulp producer Canfor Pulp Products Inc. rose 4.7 percent to C$13.40. The company was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” at Raymond James Ltd., with a 12-month price estimate of C$17. Consumption of paper products will continue to grow with Chinese income, Daryl Swetlishoff, an analyst at Raymond James, said in a report.

Alliance Grain Traders Inc., which calls itself the world’s largest lentil and pea splitter, fell 5.5 percent to C$16.70. The company was lowered to “sector perform” from “sector outperform” at Scotia Capital Inc, with a 12-month price estimate of C$22.

--Editors: Stephen Kleege, Joanna Ossinger

To contact the reporter on this story: Katia Porzecanski in New York at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Baker at nbaker7@bloomberg.net


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