CANADA STOCKS-Weak U.S. data, jittery investors, pull TSX down

Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:05pm EDT
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   * TSX down 45.47 points at 12,101.79
 * U.S. jobless claims rise; home sales trend higher
 * Eight of index's 10 sectors lower
 (Updates to close)
 By Claire Sibonney
 TORONTO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
fell for the third straight session on Thursday, as bearish
U.S. economic data prompted many wary investors to lock in
profits made in an unusually strong September.
 After teetering around the unchanged mark for much of the
day, the hefty energy and materials groups, each down 0.5
percent, dragged the TSX lower, despite rises in oil, copper
and gold prices. [O/R] [MET/L] [GOL/]
 Barrick Gold ABX.TO reversed its earlier gains to fall
0.9 percent to C$48.23, while oil company Canadian Natural
Resources CNQ.TO fell 1.1 percent to C$33.11. Base-metals
miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO dropped 2 percent to C$39.10.
 The TSX index's decline followed fresh signs of U.S. labor
market weakness, which rekindled fears that the U.S. economic
recovery remains anemic. [.N] [MKTS/GLOB]]
 "Concerns are once again coming about the pace of recovery
in the U.S.," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at
Global Securities, in Vancouver.
 Data on Wednesday showed U.S. weekly claims for jobless
insurance jumped unexpectedly. Another report showed existing
home sales rose in August, though the gain was from severely
depressed levels. [ID:nN23130114]
 Picardo also pointed to a slide in Canadian retail sales in
July, reported on Wednesday, and a U.S. Federal Reserve
statement on Tuesday that hinted it may embark on a new round
of monetary stimulus, which unsettled some investors who had
become more optimistic about the economy's prospects.
 "We've noticed that in the days immediately following the
Fed's meeting, you normally see sustained weakness in the
markets for a period of time."
 Economically-sensitive financials, which had rallied
earlier in the day, lost 0.2 percent as Royal Bank of Canada
RY.TO slipped 0.1 percent to C$52.60 and Bank of Montreal
BMO.TO fell 0.8 percent to C$58.84.
 "What this market really needs to get a sustainable
long-lasting rally is a little more conviction in the economic
data coming out that shows that in fact the recovery is
improving better than what the Street is expecting it to," said
Gareth Watson, Canadian equity advisor at ScotiaMcLeod.
 He was referring to both crucial employment and real estate
prices in the United States.
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE closed down 45.47 points, or 0.37 percent, at
12,101.79. Eight of the index's 10 main sectors were weaker.
The cyclical industrials sector, off 0.9 percent, was the
hardest hit, pulled lower by Canadian National Railway
CNR.TO, down 1.7 percent at C$64.99.
 Still the index is up almost 6 percent since late August
and on Monday it had rallied to its highest closing level since
 "The fact that we've had such an unusually strong September
... that's possibly causing some investors to take some money
off the table before the end of the month and end of the
quarter," added Picardo.
 "Given that October is traditionally a rocky month for
equity markets, I think it's quite likely that some investors
are jumping the gun and getting out while the going is good."
 Also weighing, Potash Corp POT.TO fell 0.5 percent to
C$150.50 after filing a lawsuit against BHP Billiton BHP.AX
BLT.L to fend off the miner's $39 billion hostile takeover
bid, intensifying the Canadian fertilizer supplier's struggle
to find a more attractive offer. [ID:nN22227579]
 On the bright side were telecoms, up 0.3 percent, and the
healthcare sector, up 0.4 percent. Biovail BVF.TO, Canada's
biggest publicly traded drugmaker, jumped more than 4 percent
to C$27.70 ahead of next week's shareholder vote on its merger
with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
 ($1=$1.03 Canadian)
 (Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Jeffrey