CANADA STOCKS-TSX tracking lower as commodity stocks weigh

Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:59am EDT
 
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* TSX down 22.9 points, or 0.2 percent, at 11,986.42
    * Global uncertainty hurts miners, energy companies
    * Banks continue ascent in earnings week

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The main Canadian equity index
slipped on Wednesday as resource stocks sensitive to uncertainty
on global growth weighed while the country's biggest banks again
pushed higher.
    The U.S. economy fared slightly better than initially
thought in the second quarter, clouding the prospect of strong
language from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke supporting
more monetary easing at a meeting of global central bankers
later this week. 
    Meanwhile, European leaders continue to wrangle over the
best way to contain the region's debt crisis.
    "We have to see more than just verbal action out of Europe.
Portfolio managers are coming back from vacation and they're
getting nervous," said Pat McHugh, Canadian equity strategist at
Manulife Asset Management.    
    By 10:45 a.m. (1445 GMT) the Toronto Stock Exchange's
S&P/TSX composite index was down 22.9 points, or 0.2
percent, at 11,986.42.
    The decline was led by miners and energy companies, which 
rely on robust global appetite for commodities. Barrick Gold
Corp was the heaviest weight, down 1 percent to
C$36.73, while Suncor Energy Inc also dragged the index
down, off 0.8 percent at C$31.23.
    Bullion prices eased, oil was steady and copper fell as
investors worried about global growth and waited for signs from
Fed chief Ben Bernanke that the central bank would ease policy.
    He is due to speak at a meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on
Friday. 
    But banks again supported the index, taking the top four
spots in a list of most positive influences.
    On Tuesday, Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of
Montreal posted stronger-than-expected quarterly
profits and raised their dividends, even as signs emerged that
core consumer lending was slowing after years of robust growth.
 
    Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank 
and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all report on
Wednesday.
    Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc
 jumped 3.5 percent to C$26.30 after BMO Capital Markets
raised it to the equivalent of a "buy" rating from a "hold".
    The company this month sold its U.S. fixed annuities
business in a move seen improving its capital levels.
 
    Shareholders in Canada's Progress Energy Resources Corp
 have approved a takeover bid from Malaysia's state oil
company Petronas at C$22.00 a share, or near C$6 billion ($6.09
billion) including debt, Progress said. 
    The shares had already jumped to near that price tag after
Petronas made the offer. The deal is likely to be closely
scrutinized by Canadian regulators. 
    Ottawa said it is formally reviewing another Asian takeover
deal for a Canadian resource company, the $15.1 billion bid for
oil firm Nexen Inc from Chinese state-owned oil company
CNOOC Ltd.