CANADA STOCKS-TSX dips as euro zone worries weigh on banks; golds rise

Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:48pm EDT
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* TSX falls 6.73 points, or 0.05 percent, to 12,699.65
    * Index hits one-month low
    * Five of 10 main sectors advance
    * Agrium shares fall as board battle heats up

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Wednesday, with declines in bank stocks partly
offset by a jump in gold miners, as weak economic data from the
euro zone and worries about the Cyprus bailout dragged on
investor sentiment. 
    Gold-mining stocks benefited from a jump in the price of
bullion, whose appeal as a safe haven tends to increase on
negative economic news.
    Confidence in the euro zone's economy dropped in March,
after four straight months of gains, the European Commission
    Europe remains mired in recession and has been showing mixed
signs of a recovery.
    "The situation in Europe represents a short-term risk for
the market. The resurgence in those concerns is a source of
volatility," said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at
Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. 
    "The near-term risk relates to the confidence in the
financial system in Europe and the reverberations around the
world," he added.
    After securing a bailout deal, Cyprus will reopen its banks
on Thursday while limiting withdrawals, banning checks and
curbing the use of Cypriot credit cards abroad, among measures
imposed to avert a bank run. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 unofficially closed down 6.73 points, or 0.05 percent,
at 12,699.65. It earlier fell to 12,622.50, a one-month low.
    Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Bank stocks reacted most sharply to the euro zone worries,
losing 0.9 percent. Royal Bank of Canada gave back 1.3
percent to C$60.71, and Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 0.9
percent to C$83.95.
    Energy shares declined 0.2 percent despite higher oil
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, added
1.1 percent as gold stocks climbed. Gold prices were up on the
bleak news out of Europe. 
    Gold shares, down about 16 percent since the start of the
year, advanced 1.8 percent.
    "I like them as buys," Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset
Management, said of gold stocks. "I see it as a nice entry point
for the first time in a couple of years." 
    Goldcorp Inc gained 2.5 percent to C$34.27, and
Barrick Gold Corp added 2 percent to C$29.90.
    In company news, the battle for Agrium Inc's future
intensified ahead of an April 9 vote after the two most
influential proxy advisory firms disagreed on the candidates
shareholders should back in the election for Agrium's board of
    Shares of the fertilizer maker were down 0.7 percent at