CANADA STOCKS-TSX hurt by global worries, closes lower

Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:17pm EDT
 
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* TSX closes down 56.48 points, or 0.47 percent, at
12,062.51
    * Worries over Europe, China push Canada market down
    * Gold miners keep rising; hope for Fed stimulus fades

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main equity index lost
ground on Thursday as investors fretted over troubles in Europe,
slowing growth in China and as hopes for swift stimulus from the
U.S. Federal Reserve faded.
    The commodity-rich index was hit by losses across a string
of sectors, with some investors suggesting that the country's
image as a safe haven amid global tumult was weakening. 
    "Canada's had its day in the sun," said Sadiq Adatia, the
chief investment officer of Sun Life Global Investments Canada.
He said U.S. stocks offered more promise as that country's
housing market had bottomed and its consumers have paid down
their debt.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 unofficially closed down 56.48 points, or 0.47
percent, at 12,062.51.
    The TSX has underperformed the broad S&P 500 U.S.
index so far this year after several years of outsized gains on
the back of a commodity price boom. 
    Heavyweight energy and agricultural stocks slipped on
Thursday, with fertilizer company Potash Corp down 2.6
percent to C$41.12 and Suncor Energy Inc slipping 1.5
percent to C$31.25.
    But gold miners limited the damage as they continue to climb
out of a trough.
    Barrick Gold added 1.6 percent to C$37.87, while
smaller rival Centerra Gold Inc jumped 11.2 percent to
C$8.45.
    "It's a good environment for gold, particularly if you are
negative on what is going to happen in September and October,"
said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at
Northland Wealth Management, referring specifically to a looming
decision about Greece's place in the European Union.
    "People really don't know what happens if Greece is pushed
out the door. We've got to get past this hurdle."
    The price of bullion rose to a four-month high. 
Toronto's gold mining sub-sector has gained 11 percent in the
past month, but is still down almost 13 percent since the start
of 2012.  
    A Federal Reserve official leaned against the impression
that the U.S. central bank was locked into easing monetary
policy, noting that economic data had improved since an August
meeting showed strong support for more action. 
    The commodity-rich Canadian market is sensitive to signs of
slowing growth in China, whose manufacturing sector contracted
at its sharpest pace in nine months in August, according to a
survey showing falling export orders and rising inventories.
 
    The data was seen as a signal that more policy stimulus may
be needed to engineer a second half pickup in growth.
    Advantage Oil & Gas Ltd jumped 12.8 percent to
C$3.69 after the company said it was looking to sell a string of
oil and gas reserves to focus on its Glacier Montney natural gas
 asset and its stake in Longview Oil Corp.
    Telecom company Telus was also among the top gainers,
pushing 0.9 percent higher. The company is girding for a battle
with its largest investor over a plan to unify its dual-share
structure.