TORONTO, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Canada's main stock market in Toronto closed lower on Thursday, as a forthcoming interest rate hike in the United States saw the price of precious and base metals to falter.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite retreated 63.03 points, or 0.40 percent, to close the session at 15,536.65 points. Four of the ten sub-groups ended the day in negative territory.
The Materials group, which consists of producers of gold, precious metals, and raw materials, was hit the hardest on the day, slumping 3.71 percent. With the Federal Open Market Committee more likely to increase the interest rate later in the month, the spot price of gold plunged 1.15 percent to 1,234.00 U.S. dollars an ounce. This was the worst single-day decline for the precious metal since mid-December.
Shares of Barrick Gold, the world's largest producer of gold, fell 4.44 percent to 24.11 Canadian dollars (17.99 U.S. dollars). Meanwhile B2Gold Corp. and IAMGOLD Corporation plummeted 7.76 percent and 6.55 percent, respectively.
The price of silver took a bigger blow, dropping 3.59 percent to close at 17.72 U.S. dollars an ounce, while copper retreated 1.26 percent to 2.6931 U.S. dollars a pound.
The remaining groups to finish the session lower were: Health Care (0.48 percent), Industrials (0.20 percent), and Consumer Discretionary (0.20 percent).
Groups that finished higher on Thursday were: Consumer Staples (0.73 percent), Utilities (0.43 percent), Information Technology (0.43 percent), Energy (0.15 percent), Financials (0.08 percent), and Telecommunications (0.02 percent).
Consumer Staples group, which consists of firms that produce, distribute or sell essential products benefited from two of the country's largest supermarket retailers. Toronto-based Loblaws Companies Limited rose up 1.00 percent to 69.92 Canadian dollars (52.18 U.S. dollars) a share, while shares of Montreal-based Metro Inc. ticked up 0.49 percent to 38.92 Canadian dollars (29.05 U.S. dollars).
The TSX Energy group finished slightly higher as Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Limited reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter financials.
Group members Enbridge Inc. and Encana Corporation were heavily traded and faded 0.07 percent and 0.65 percent, respectively. A barrel of Brent crude oil for May delivery slipped 2.11 percent to 55.13 U.S. dollars a barrel.
The Financial Group finished ahead despite losses from two of the country's largest financial institutions. Toronto-Dominion Bank, the second largest bank in the country, posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings per share only to see shares decline 0.75 percent to 68.98 Canadian dollars (51.48 U.S. dollars). Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corporation retreated 0.45 percent to 24.23 Canadian dollars (18.08 U.S. dollars) a share was the top traded stock with more than 8.6 million.
Bank of Montreal and National Bank of Canada kept the group in positive territory with respective increases of 1.44 percent and 1.30 percent.
The Canadian dollar slumped for a fourth straight session, dropping 0.36 cents to end the day at 0.7463 U.S. dollars.