Investors came out of the long holiday weekend hoping for some relief from the huge losses that 2016 has brought so far, but early gains almost completely evaporated by the end of the day. Tuesday brought mixed results to the major market benchmarks, with the Dow and S&P 500 posting minimal gains while the Nasdaq gave up ground. As investors continue to worry about the ailing commodity markets, many of the biggest losers among individual stock names came from the energy and mining sectors. Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR), IAMGOLD (NYSE:IAG), and Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC) were some of the biggest decliners on the day.
Continental Resources fell 15% in the wake of another terrible day for the oil market. Crude oil prices slumped another 4%, closing just above $28 per barrel and showing few signs of bottoming out as new supply from Iran starts to come onto the global market. In addition, some analysts have specifically referred to Continental and similarly placed oil and gas production companies as suffering from the ongoing need to get their balance sheets in order. The incentive to reduce debt by buying back bonds on the open market at discounts to face value could justify further asset sales, but falling oil prices make it that much more difficult to find buyers in an increasingly depressed market.
IAMGOLD also declined 15% after announcing its preliminary production results for 2015 and early outlook for 2016. The Canada-based mining company said that it produced 806,000 ounces of gold during 2015, with preliminary total cash costs coming in near or below the lower end of its previous guidance of $825 to $865 per ounce. For 2016, IAMGOLD is looking to produce 770,000 to 800,000 ounces, with further cost reductions taking total cash costs per ounce down to $775 to $815 per ounce. Nevertheless, with all-in sustaining costs of between $1,000 and $1,100 per ounce, IAMGOLD is potentially vulnerable to any further declines in gold prices. Moreover, the results assume that the U.S. dollar will stop strengthening against key currencies, including the Canadian dollar, and that assumption might prove overly optimistic.
Finally, Stillwater Mining dropped 11%. The Montana-based producer of platinum-group metals told investors about its production results for 2015, and although Stillwater saw volume drop during the fourth quarter, it managed to boost both full-year palladium and platinum production slightly from 2014 levels. Stillwater succeeded in cutting its all-in sustaining costs to $603 to $623 per ounce in the fourth quarter, and even for the full year, costs of $705 to $715 per ounce showed marked improvement. However, platinum and palladium prices have continued to fall, and until they are able to rebound, it will be difficult for Stillwater to make much progress from volume alone.