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TSX slumps to two-month low, oil slide hits energy stocks

By Alastair Sharp

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index fell to its lowest close in more than two months on Tuesday as slumping oil prices weighed on energy shares and heavyweight banking and mining stocks also lost ground amid a broad retreat.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 248.04 points, or 1.70 percent, at 14,349.10, with eight stocks falling for every one that gained.

“Obviously we’re in a risk-off type mentality in the market, all sectors have sold off,” said Ben Jang, a portfolio manager at Nicola Wealth Management.

The energy group lost 3.3 percent as oil prices slid on gloomy outlooks for crude consumption, with pipeline company Enbridge Inc falling 3.2 percent to C$56.94 and producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd off 3.8 percent to C$38.80. [O/R]

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

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday said a sharp slowdown in global oil demand growth, coupled with ballooning inventories and rising supply, means the crude market will be over supplied at least through the first six months of 2017. [IEA/M]

That followed a surprisingly bearish outlook from OPEC on Monday. [OPEC/M]

Industrials fell 1 percent, while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 2.9 percent.

Agrium Inc and Potash Corp posted a second straight day of losses after the pair agreed to combine to navigate a severe industry slump by boosting efficiency and cutting costs, with the new company’s potential pricing power likely to attract tough regulatory scrutiny.

Agrium fell 3.6 percent at C$116.67 and Potash Corp lost 2.6 percent to C$21.27.

The financials group fell 0.9 percent, with Toronto-Dominion Bank down 1.1 percent to C$57.33 and Bank of Nova Scotia declining 1.4 percent to C$68.64.

Nicola’s Jang said that while investors debate whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will decide to hold or raise historically low interest rates next week, Japan’s central bank is of more relevance for those accustomed to seeking yield in equities.

“What’s driving the markets is actually Japan,” he said, suggesting the Fed will wait to raise rates later this year. “Japan is leading the global experiment in monetary policy.”

The Bank of Japan plans to make its controversial negative interest rate policy the centerpiece of future monetary easing, promising to weigh further cuts as expansions to asset buying near their effective limit, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Tuesday.