By John Tilak
Canada’s main stock index fell on Tuesday, with a decline in industrials offsetting stronger resource shares, as investors worried about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus plans and feared a recent market rally might have been overdone.
The Toronto stock market’s benchmark index, which is up about 8 percent this year, eased from a two-year high it hit in the previous session.
With market focus glued on U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy and China’s plans for social and economic reform, some investors have started to question whether the gains made by global stock markets are sustainable.
Billionaire Carl Icahn said on Monday he is “very cautious” on the stock market, saying he could see a “big drop” because earnings at many companies are fueled more by low borrowing costs than by the strength of management.
Investors have been hungry for more details about the timing of the Fed’s rollback of its stimulus measures, and they will be looking to an upcoming speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for clues.
“There’s a little bit of a pause. The market may consolidate,” said Ben Jang, a portfolio manager at Nicola Wealth Management.
“A lot of people are waiting on the sidelines, to get a little more color when Bernanke speaks tonight.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 15.46 points, or 0.11 percent, at 13,442.60.
Still, the benchmark Canadian index is up about 5 percent in the quarter to date.
“The Canadian market has run up quite a bit. You’re looking at a bit of a breather,” Jang said. “As the bull market starts to mature, people will start to look at earnings and revenue growth to push it further.”
Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on Tuesday.
The industrial sector shed 0.5 percent, with Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO: Quote) losing 1.3 percent, to C$116.03, and having the biggest negative influence on the market.
But a gain in the price of U.S. crude oil helped push shares of energy companies up 0.4 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO:Quote) climbed 0.6 percent to C$33.84, and Encana Corp (ECA.TO:Quote) jumped 2.7 percent to C$20.05.
Gold-mining stocks gained 0.6 percent, helped by a slight increase in the price of bullion. Goldcorp Inc (G.TO: Quote) was up 0.4 percent at C$25.31, and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote) rose 1.3 percent to C$18.67.
In company news, Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO: Quote) said it signed a letter of intent to sell five CSeries jetliners to Iraqi Airways. Bombardier shares gained 0.7 percent to C$4.68.