Gold miners drag TSX to lackluster finish

Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:41pm EST
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended slightly lower on Tuesday, retreating from a one-week high, as losses from gold miners offset rising confidence on the economic outlook in China, the United States and Germany.

The weighty materials sector fell more than 2 percent, led lower by Kinross Gold (K.TO: Quote), which plunged more than 20 percent to C$10.39.

"That's been a bit of a drag on our market, there's no doubt about that," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.

At least two brokerages cut their ratings on the stock after the miner announced delays of up to nine months at the massive Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 25.77 points, or 0.21 percent, at 12,232.83.

Gold miners and banks were the heaviest laggards, including Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), down 2.1 percent at C$48.75, Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), off 1.8 percent at C$45.67 and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote), down 0.5 percent at C$51.82.

The TSX swung to losses after hitting its highest level in a week early in the session, as commodity prices rose on upbeat German investment sentiment, brighter prospects for pro-growth monetary policies in China, and healthier regional U.S. manufacturing data.

The news helped investors look past Standard & Poor's credit downgrade of several euro zone countries last week's and its Monday downgrade of the region's primary rescue fund.   Continued...