*TSX down 20.06 points at 11,550.39
*Energy, base-metals shares lead index lower (Updates with prices, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, July 12 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index edged lower on Monday morning as soft commodity prices weighed on resource shares and investor optimism after last week’s rally.
U.S. crude oil futures fell below $76 a barrel, consolidating after a week of gains and ahead of U.S. quarterly earnings and key macroeconomic data, pushing down the index’s energy group by 0.3 percent.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was down 0.1 percent at C$33.04, and Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO shed 0.7 percent to C$27.42.
Copper prices fell after China, the world’s top metals consumer, reported a drop in copper imports for the third straight month in June, casting a shadow on the demand outlook and pushing base-metal mining shares down 0.7 percent. [MET/L]
Teck Resources TCKb.TO fell 1.6 percent to C$35.02, while Inmet Mining IMN.TO lost 2.5 percent to C$46.08.
“We’ve opened strangely. I think the market is showing some mistrust of where we ought to be,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
“There’s nothing here in my opinion to upset the market but at the same time there’s nothing here to cause us to all of a sudden get overly optimistic and think there’s nothing but bargains out there.”
At 10:39 a.m. (1439 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 20.06 points, or 0.17 percent, at 11,550.39.
Gold prices slipped on Monday but gold mining shares gained as the precious metal continued to attract safe-haven attention. [GOL/]
“Part of the nuance of what’s driving gold here is, as governments continue to get further into debt, people are worried about the value of fiat currencies and are looking for somewhere that may be a perceived store of value and gold is usually the obvious choice,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.
Markets were looking ahead to second-quarter earnings results from U.S. companies, with Alcoa Inc (AA.N) reporting on Monday. A weak run of economic data has raised speculation the economic recovery may be losing momentum and has stung the dollar.
“I think some people are standing on the sidelines to wait and see what Alcoa has got to say and what follows after that. That’s going to give us perhaps some direction as we move ahead,” Ketchen said.
Pengrowth Energy Trust PGF_u.TO fell 6.1 percent to C$9.65 after announcing it will buy the 82 percent of Monterey Exploration MXL.TO it does not already own. Monterey was up 81 percent at C$7.76.
Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) was 3.1 percent higher at C$24.32 after United Steelworkers members at the uranium producer’s conversion facility in Port Hope, Ontario, voted in favor of a new three-year contract. [ID:nN09111384]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway