TSX falls as mining shares sink; index up for week

Fri Mar 1, 2013 5:22pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Friday, as materials and energy shares followed commodity prices lower, after Washington failed to reach a deal to prevent U.S. budget cuts.

There have been widespread fears that the spending cuts will weaken the economy of the United States, which is Canada's largest trading partner.

The materials sector, which includes some of the world's biggest gold miners, was the largest weight on the index. Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote) dropped 3.4 percent to C$30.20 as bullion prices slumped. <GOL/>

The energy sector was the next biggest decliner as Brent crude prices fell to a six-week low, erasing all the gains so far this year. Financial stocks also fell, just a day after four of Canada's top banks posted stronger-than-expected quarterly profits.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) slipped 0.4 percent to C$63.77 on Friday, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) slipped 0.2 percent to C$85.03. Both remain near record highs.

"A lot of the major banks, from a pure technical point of view, are right now at technical resistance," said Keith Richards, a portfolio manager at ValueTrend Wealth Management. "Fundamentally, there are not a lot of bargains out there."

Richards said the stock prices of Canadian banks typically slip in April or May, and said other factors - such as a high insider selling ratio and the average length of bull runs - pointed to a broad decline ahead.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 48.71 points, or 0.38 percent, at 12,773.12, with seven of the 10 main sectors in the red. It gained 0.56 percent for the week.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch