TSX steps back after large gain, energy stocks slide on Goldman price warning

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed lower Monday with losses led by energy stocks amid a warning that oil prices have even further to slide.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 74.82 points to 14,469, giving back a chunk of last week’s 2.25 per cent advance amid a rebound on markets after a big sell-off earlier this month.

The energy sector fell 2.77 per cent as the December crude oil contract in New York dipped one cent to US$81 after having gone as low as $79.44 a barrel in the wake of comments by Goldman Sachs that it expects oil prices to tumble into the next year as shale gas production grows and oil supply outstrips demand.

“The cuts are fairly material so when you have a dealer with that kind of clout come out, and with those type of changes, then it’s bound to have some type of impact on the markets and obviously we’re seeing that . . . ,” said Gareth Watson, Richardson GMP vice-president, investment management and research.

Goldman lowered its forecast for West Texas Intermediate crude to US$75 a barrel in the first quarter of 2015 from $90. Oil prices have steadily fallen from US$110 in the summer amid a supply glut. The Goldman researchers expect prices to begin rising in 2016 as production growth slows.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.04 of a cent to 88.98 cents US.

New York markets were little changed as traders digested last week’s solid gains. The Dow Jones industrials gained 12.53 points to 16,817.94 following a 2.6 per cent jump last week, the Nasdaq rose 2.21 points to 4,485.93 and the S&P 500 index shed 2.95 points to 1,961.63.

Traders are set to absorb a variety of economic data this week.

The major event is the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting Wednesday. The Fed will make its next announcement on interest rates and provide some clarity on the end of quantitative easing, the stimulus program of massive bond buying that has kept long-term rates low and encouraged a rally on stock markets.

But traders are also anxious to see how the U.S. economy held up in the third quarter. Data coming out Thursday is expected to show gross domestic product advanced at an annualized pace of three per cent. A miss would be a disappointment in view of the fact that it was worry about the global economy that helped ignite the sell-off that started earlier this month.

“If the U.S. starts to weaken, then it will be really hard to help support the market because there won‘t be support coming from anywhere else,” Watson said.

The base metals component also weighed on the TSX, down 1.8 per cent as December copper gained two cents to US$3.06 a pound.

The gold sector lost about 1.5 per cent as December bullion faded $2.50 to US$1,229.30 an ounce.

The TSX was off the worst levels of the session thanks to gains in the technology and consumer staples sectors, both up about one per cent.

Elsewhere, Precision Drilling Corp. (TSX:PD) fell 82 cents or 8.25 per cent to $9.13 as the company posted net income of $53 million — up 82 per cent from a year earlier — or 18 cents a share. The drilling company’s revenue increased 19.7 per cent to $584.6 million. Revenue and net income were in line with analyst expectations. Precision Drilling is increasing its quarterly dividend by 17 per cent to seven cents a share.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX) says that it’s prepared to raise its takeover offer for California-based Botox maker Allergan to US$200 a share. That would be about US$21 per share higher than the value of Valeant’s offer as of Friday. However, Valeant didn’t spell out what sort of combination of stock and cash it is prepared to offer. Valeant stock rose $1.63 to $146.84.