CANADA STOCKS-TSX dives as investors abandon gold

Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:59pm EDT
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* TSX down 159.79 points, or 1.27 pct, at 12,377.90

* Brighter outlook pushes gold sharply lower

* Nine of 10 index sectors drop; materials tumble 3.3 pct

* Insurers soar on Fed outlook

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 14 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended sharply lower on Wednesday as gold miners fell as bullion lost its safe-haven luster after Tuesday's U.S. Federal Reserve statement and recent U.S. data that has signaled economic recovery.

Pat McHugh, Canadian equity strategist at Manulife Asset Management, said appetite for gold has been diminished by the stronger economic outlook and on an easing of concerns about the euro zone's debt problems.

The steep slide in gold prices also reflects the market perception that the Fed is now unlikely to ease credit any further, with bullion prices giving up almost all of the gains they had made after Jan. 25, when the U.S. central bank signaled that it could provide additional policy stimulus.   Continued...