U.S. fiscal fears drag TSX to five-week low

Tue Oct 8, 2013 7:27pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped on Tuesday to its lowest in five weeks as a political standoff in Washington highlighted the crisis over the U.S. debt limit and threatened to push the world's biggest economy into default.

Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO found itself in the spotlight after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a stake in the company late on Monday. The stock jumped in early trade before paring those gains to slip with the broader market.

The Toronto market gave up its gains as hopes of a speedy resolution to the fiscal crisis took a beating after President Barack Obama said he would be willing to negotiate on budget issues only after the Republicans agreed to re-open the federal government and raise the debt limit with no conditions.

"It's a bit of a buyers' boycott," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "People are gun-shy, and they want to sit and watch until the dust settles."

"We believe it will be resolved and the market will eventually do better," he added. "However, in the short run people's imagination is running wild."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 95.84 points, or 0.75 percent, at 12,692.41, after falling to as low as 12,682.94, its weakest level since September 3.

Michael expects the index to end the year higher after the current U.S. fiscal turmoil eases.

Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on Tuesday.   Continued...

A general view of the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch