CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2-week low after Fed; China data eyed
* TSX down 143.04 points, or 1.2 percent, at 11,401.60 * Mining, energy shares lead index losses * Fed signals no stimulus moves in near term * Oil and metals lower as China GDP data awaited By Jon Cook TORONTO, July 12 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index touched a two-week trough near midday on Thursday, led lower by mining and energy shares, after the U.S. Federal Reserve dampened speculation of further stimulus measures and as markets were cautious ahead of China GDP data. Minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting, released on Wednesday, indicated more stimulus is unlikely in the near future despite recent data showing slower growth in Europe, China and the United States. While the prospect of no new Fed action weighed on commodities, the main focus in Canada was on Friday's release of second-quarter growth figures from China. A Reuters poll showed economists expect China's growth to have slowed to 7.6 percent in the second quarter, its worst performance since the 2008/09 financial crisis. "On the materials side, there's no expectation of an outperformance," said John Hughes, senior mining analyst at Desjardins Securities. "Until we change the sentiment, we can't go higher." The heavily weighted materials sector, which includes miners, fell for the second straight day, tumbling 2.3 percent. Losses were led by top gold producers Barrick Gold, down 2.3 percent at C$34.85, and Goldcorp Inc, which dropped 3.2 percent to C$32.72. Other miners on the downside included Potash Corp, which sank 1 percent to C$44.86, First Quantum Minerals, off 5.5 percent at C$16.85, and Teck Resources, which slid 2.3 percent to C$29.85. Around 11:25 a.m. EDT (1525 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 143.04 points, or 1.2 percent, at 11,401.60. The index touched 11,366.74, its lowest since June 28. The oil and gas sub-index fell nearly 2 percent as U.S. oil prices slid, despite U.S. data that showed new jobless claims fell to the lowest level in four years. The biggest energy names on the downside were Suncor Energy , down 1.4 percent at C$28.84, Canadian Natural Resources , which dipped 2 percent to C$25.93, and Cenovus Energy , off 1.9 percent at C$32.63. In the euro zone, various member nations faced obstacles getting their own people on board the bloc's policies to overcome its debt crisis, which boded ill for investor risk appetite. Germany will need a few months to decide whether the European Union's bailout fund and fiscal pact are legal under its laws, while Spain faced violent protests in Madrid after it unveiled new austerity measures. "Right now the majority of investors do not want to get involved with the equity markets," said Hughes. "Until we stabilize the situation in Europe, it's very difficult to expect we would see the beginning of any new cycle in the commodities group." Canadian financials also suffered, falling 0.8 percent. Major lenders led the slide, with Royal Bank of Canada down 0.8 percent at C$52.35 and Bank of Nova Scotia shedding 1 percent to C$52.53. One of the few positives on Thursday was TMX Group, which edged up 0.3 percent to C$48.99 a day after a takeover of the Canadian exchange operator, which owns the TSX, cleared its final regulatory hurdles.
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