4 Min Read
* TSX falls 16.97 points, or 0.13 percent, to 13,487.51 * Seven of the 10 main index sectors decline * Valeant is index's biggest negative influence * TMX Group climbs after quarterly report By John Tilak TORONTO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Wednesday, reacting to a U.S. report that showed sluggish hiring in the private sector and to continuing fears about emerging markets, but rising gold mining shares limited the decline. Investors rushed to snap up bullion, which is seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, lifting both the price of the commodity and gold-mining shares. The rise in gold miners offset some of the market's broader weakness. Data released by ADP showed that hiring by U.S. private employers in January was the weakest since August, with cold weather having an impact. Worries about growth and stability in emerging markets, including concerns about the Chinese economy, remained a drag on sentiment, extending the choppy ride investors have been experiencing. The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark index, which gained 9.6 percent last year, has lost about 500 points in the last two weeks. "The recent volatility and weakness in equity markets reflect investor nervousness after having a strong 2013," said Stan Wong, director of wealth management and portfolio manager at Scotia McLeod. "The emerging market problems have been more of a convenient excuse for investors to sell off equities." "The economic recovery in the United States and Europe is going to be uneven and bumpy," he added. "But if you look out a year from now, fundamentals will be better." The Toronto market's S&P/TSX composite index was down 16.97 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,487.51. Its losses so far this year have not been as severe as those of its U.S. peers. "Because of the fact that the Canadian market has a gold component, the TSX is not as oversold as U.S. counterpart indexes," Wong said. "People have been looking for safe havens in the gold market, rightly or wrongly, but that has helped the TSX hold up a little bit better." Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on Wednesday. Gold-mining shares jumped nearly 1 percent. Barrick Gold Corp climbed 0.4 percent to C$21.30 and Goldcorp Inc advanced 1.8 percent to C$28.31. Energy shares added 0.3 percent. Suncor Energy Inc rose 0.7 percent to C$35.27, and Encana Corp jumped 2.1 percent to C$20.86. But the telecoms group gave back 1 percent. Telus Corp dropped 1.3 percent to C$37.22, and Rogers Communications shed 1.2 percent to C$44.93. Among healthcare stocks, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc fell 1.4 percent to C$148.08 and had the biggest negative influence on the index. In corporate news, TMX Group Ltd, owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, reported a fourth-quarter profit that topped market expectations. Its shares climbed 0.3 percent to C$50. Intact Financial Corp reported a larger-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter profit as a winter ice storm hurt underwriting results. The stock was down 1.4 percent at C$66.60.