TSX slips after Europe's shifting signals

Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:44pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dipped lower on Monday, pulled down by shifting signals about the European Central Bank's plans to tackle the region's sovereign debt crisis.

Two of the three most influential sectors -- financials and energy -- were pushed down in uninspiring trade after two weeks of gains on a string of positive North American data.

"All the stuff that's been hanging around for several months, it seems like years, none of that's gone away," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.

Germany's central bank repeated its criticism of the ECB's bond-buying program, while the ECB sought to quash press speculation about the shape of the plan, saying decisions had not yet been taken.

The Toronto exchange ended last week above 12,000 for the first time since early May, but investors didn't push it any higher to start the new week.

"There's all this talk of the market at highs, but it sure doesn't look like it's engendering much enthusiasm if you look at the volumes today," he added.

Preliminary Reuters data showed that barely 100 million shares changed hands, well down from average volumes.

The third heavyweight sector, materials, was helped by a 1.2 percent gain from Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), which closed as the exchange's biggest positive influence at C$36.01.   Continued...

People walk past an electronic board displaying the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch