CANADA STOCKS-Toronto shares flat as gold miner, energy stocks decline


Barrick Gold slips as weaker gold prices weigh


Bausch + Lomb Corp up on naming Brent Saunders CEO

(Updates shares, quote)

By Shristi Achar A and Maiya Keidan

Feb 15 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index eked out marginal gains on Wednesday after earlier falling as gold miners and energy companies declined, while domestic data on the housing sector and wholesale trade pointed to slowing economic growth.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended Wednesday up 0.08% to 20,722.58. Wall Street’s main indexes also slid earlier in the day as strong economic data fanned worries about prolonged rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The broader materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, dropped 1.3% as gold and metal prices fell against a strong dollar.

The energy sector fell 1.3% as oil prices declined after an industry report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) pointed to a jump in U.S crude inventory.

The financials group fell 0.05%.

Meanwhile, the domestic housing starts and wholesale trade both decreased for the month of January, showing signs of a slowing economy.

“This January short covering and rebound – it’s kind of come off and settled because we’re expecting these economic numbers to weaken,” said Paul Gardner, partner & portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management.

“There’s this headwind that we keep getting better-than-expected numbers that’s not going to be ever good for equity markets.

“The U.S. is probably going to have to continue raising rates and that’s not good for gold and that’s not good for the underlying materials sector.”

In earnings, Barrick Gold Corp beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and also announced a new share repurchase of up to $1 billion. However, its stock fell 3.3%, mirroring weakness in the sector.

Suncor Energy Inc gained 2% after the energy company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher crude prices.

Bausch + Lomb Corp jumped 9.5% after the eye-care company named Brent Saunders, the former chief executive of Allergan, as its CEO and chairman, but ended the day 6.5% higher than Monday’s close.

Cloud services firm Converge Technology Solutions plunged as low as 15.4% to the bottom of the TSX, as multiple brokerages cut their price targets on the stock following its preliminary results for full-year 2022. But the stock ended the day down 8.9%. (Reporting by Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Deepa Babington)