After stock sell-off, what lies ahead for battered mining sector? – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2015)

An across-the-board sell-off in mining stocks is picking up speed, leading to new questions about what lies ahead for the battered sector.

On Monday, the metals and mining group in the S&P/TSX composite index plunged 6.5 per cent, a remarkable fall for an industry that has already seen its share values devastated by falling commodity prices.

The losses hit both gold miners and base metal producers and far outpaced the rest of the market, which slid less than a percentage point. The damage to miners also exceeded the declines in metals prices themselves.

Observers said the sell-off may have been related to growing fears around the U.S. Federal Reserve’s likely move to raise interest rates on Wednesday, as well as the desire of shareholders to sell stakes and reap tax losses before the end of the year.

Ultimately, though, the widespread selling is evidence of investors’ revulsion for a sector that has struggled with falling prices for four years and has demonstrated no clear schedule for a recovery.

“The whole commodity sector is done,” said Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management in Toronto. “It’s over, put a fork in it. It’s going to take years for many of these companies to recover.”

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