TSX ends lower as gold miners weigh

Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:22pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed lower on Monday after a day of choppy trade as gains in energy issues were undercut by losses among gold miners and fertilizer producer Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote).

The gold price rose on Monday after falling sharply last week, but equity investors were wary as technical factors suggested the precious metal could tumble further. <GOL/><MET/L>

World No.1 gold producer, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), closed down 1.17 percent to C$43.11, while Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO: Quote) fell 2.83 percent to C$13.07 and Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) slid 0.69 percent to C$43.38.

"In Canada, the gold sector has been a drag on the overall market," said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics. "So the rally on the TSX has tended to lag the rally on Wall Street."

Also weighing on the index was data showing that U.S. homebuilder sentiment was unchanged in March, disappointing expectations for a small rise, and Canadian wholesale trade slumped in January.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 17.26 points, or 0.14 percent, at 12,479.70. Earlier in the day it touched a two-week high at 12,561.75.

Five of the TSX's 10 main sectors were lower, dragged down by the materials issues, which slid 0.85 percent.

The biggest drag came from Potash Corp, which ended down 1.63 percent at C$44.66, after U.S. wheat, corn and soybean futures all fell on the day. Shares of the world's largest fertilizer maker typically closely track movements in grain prices, as these tend to impact farmer sentiment.   Continued...

An electronic board displays the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch