CANADA STOCKS-Uncertainty drags TSX lower, golds cushion slide

Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:00pm EDT
 
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   * TSX ends down 59.50 points, or 0.48 pct, at 12,284.31
 * Nine of 10 main sectors weaker, golds boost materials
 (Updates to close, adds details, comments)
 By Claire Sibonney
 TORONTO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
ended lower in volatile trade on Thursday as anxiety gripped
investors over the economic outlook and what U.S. Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would say in a highly anticipated
speech on Friday.
 A report showing U.S. job market weakness and concerns over
a sharp drop in German stocks were the latest global economic
concerns, fueling a wave of selling in equity markets.
 Energy issues were the biggest drag on the the index, with
Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), the heaviest decliner, fell 2.4 percent
to C$29.54, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) lost 1.9
percent to C$34.40.
 Sentiment was also hurt by a drop in shares of U.S.
heavyweight Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote), a day after co-founder Steve
Jobs resigned as chief executive. [.N] That news initially
helped lift shares of rival Research In Motion RIM.TO but RIM
soon succumbed to the negative sentiment and fell 1.3 percent
to C$27.89.
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE ended down 59.50 points, or 0.48 percent, at
12,284.31. Nine of the 10 main sectors were lower, while
materials gained 1.2 percent on the back of rallying golds.
 Precious-metal shares were the lead gainers on the day, and
helped the TSX outperform its U.S. counterparts
[ID:nN1E77O1R9], as the price of gold rebounded on safe-haven
bids, after two days of sharp declines. [GOL/]
 Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was the most heavily weighted
climber, up 2.3 percent to C$49.37, followed by Goldcorp Inc
(G.TO: Quote), up 2.7 percent at C$50.60.
 Financials, which ended down 0.8 percent, had initially led
the index higher, supported by news that Warren Buffett's
Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N: Quote) will invest $5 billion in Bank of
America Corp (BAC.N: Quote), and on optimism for domestic bank
earnings after a higher than expected profit posted by Bank of
Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) on Tuesday.
 National Bank of Canada (NA.TO: Quote) shed 2.7 percent to
C$70.40, despite reporting on Thursday that quarterly profit
rose 15 percent, as analysts voiced concerns over narrower
margins on loans and weak trading revenues. [ID:nN1E77O06N]
 Traders were on edge before Bernanke's speech on Friday to
central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Many are waiting to
see whether the Fed chief will provide concrete action for
further monetary stimulus or simply outline general guidelines
for supporting the struggling U.S. economy. [FED/AHEAD]
 "Nobody knows what Bernanke is going to say tomorrow ... my
expectations are not terribly high," said David Baskin,
president of Baskin Financial Services.
 "I don't think he's going to say anything revolutionary,
that would be odd for the Fed," Baskin added, noting investors
were also likely profit-taking on Thursday following healthy
gains earlier in the week.
 Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in
St. Louis, Missouri, said it's much more likely that Bernanke
will simply go through a laundry list of actions the Fed might
be able to take if conditions deteriorate.
 "We could either see a negative market reaction because
there are expectations that the Fed will pull a rabbit out of
the 'hole' so to speak," she said.
 "But I think the other side is that investors could take it
as good news that the Fed is saying that even though we've seen
many weak indicators, that we don't think the economy needs
more right now."
 ($1=$0.99 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson)