Times Colonist

Toronto slides as oil prices drop

- DEREK ABMA

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s positive trends couldn’t overcome a drop in oil prices yesterday that pulled down energy stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite was down 85.57 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 14,728.61. The TSX Venture composite fell 11.79 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,640.10.

Canada’s big fertilizer stocks mitigated the main indexes decline, which was hurt by the fall of petroleum stocks as the price of crude oil in New York fell $3.45 to $124.31 US a barrel.

Yesterday, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said inflationa­ry risks posed by a weak American dollar needed monitoring, and this seemed to boost the U.S. dollar. That effectivel­y helped lower the price of oil, and gold for that matter, which was down $11.50 to $885.50 US an ounce.

“The comments from Bernanke [yesterday] morning have deflated some of the speculatio­n in oil and gold,” Rick Hutcheon, president of RKH Investment­s in Toronto, told Reuters. “If they can talk up the value of the U.S. dollar, then the price of oil will go down.”

As measured against the greenback, the loonie fell 73 basis points to 99.15 cents US.

On the TSX, the energy index was down 1.4 per cent. Suncor Energy Inc. shares fell $2.18, or 3.2 per cent, to $66.60. Canadian Oil Sands Trust was down $1.55, or three per cent, to $49.60. Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd. was down $2.18, or 3.8 per cent, to $54.67.

Some of the best performing equities in Toronto were fertilizer stocks Potash Corp. of Saskatchew­an Inc. and Agrium Inc. Potash was up $9.93, or 4.9 per cent, to $213.30. Agrium gained $2.77, or 3.2 per cent, to close at $90.11. They seemed to get a kick from K+S AG, Europe’s largest fertilizer producer, raising its profit forecast for the year.

This helped bring the TSX materials index up 0.4 per cent. But with falling gold prices, this measure was affected by declines of stocks such as Goldcorp Inc., which was down 90 cents, or 2.2 per cent to $39.83. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest bullion producer, was down 24 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $40.16.

The TSX financials index was down 0.2 per cent. Bank of Montreal fell 60 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $47.90. Bank of Nova Scotia was up 63 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $50.84.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. was down $2.60, or 1.9 per cent, to $134.60. This came as reports emerged that rival Apple Inc. will reveal a new iPhone next week. The informatio­n-technology index was down 0.4 per cent, as RIM’s decline was partly offset by other tech gains. For instance, CGI Group Inc. was up 28 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $10.70.

The industrial­s index fell 1.2 per cent. This featured Canadian National Railway Co.’s stock falling $1.30, or 2.4 per cent, to $53.72. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. was down $1.24, or 2.1 per cent, to $56.65.

U.S. stock indexes were down for the day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 100.97 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 12,402.85. The Nasdaq composite index was down 11.05 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,480.48. The S&P 500 was off by 8.02 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,377.65.

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