CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls as sovereign debt worries rise

Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:32am EDT
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 * TSX falls 72.45 points, or 0.6 percent, to 11,972.09
 * Materials, energy sectors lead TSX lower
 * Strong U.S. dollar weighs on commodity prices
 (Adds details, quote)
 By Jennifer Kwan
 TORONTO, March 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
fell on Wednesday under pressure from falling commodity prices
and diminished investor confidence as sovereign debt concerns
 The index's powerhouse resource sectors led the way lower,
with miner Agnico-Eagle (AEM.TO: Quote) down 2.5 percent at C$57.45,
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) falling 1.8 percent to C$38.75, and
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) dropping 0.8 percent to
C$72.07. The materials and energy sectors fell 1.2 percent and
0.7 percent, respectively.
 The prices of oil, gold and base metals dropped, and
safe-haven buying of the U.S. dollar increased, as investors
became nervous after Portugal's credit rating was downgraded on
budget concerns. That added to jitters over Greece's debt woes
ahead of a European Union summit on March 25-26.  [MKTS/GLOB]
[ID:nLDE62N0XD] [FRX/]
 "The U.S. dollar is very bid overnight ... so of course
that puts pressure on oil, gold, the commodity stocks," said
Paul Gardner, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue
Investment Management.
 "You're still getting nervousness from Europe with the
so-called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain)."
 At 10:06 a.m. (1406 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's
S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 72.45 points, or 0.6
percent, at 11,972.09, with nine of its 10 main groups lower.
The sole sector in the black was the small healthcare group, up
0.4 percent.
 Canadian fund management company AGF Management Ltd
(AGFb.TO: Quote) reported stronger quarterly earnings on Wednesday as
revenue and assets under management rose due to improvements in
global financial markets. AGF shares rose 1.5 percent at
 Drugmaker Aeterna Zentaris Inc AEZ.TO rose 3.6 percent to
87 Canadian cents after it said it returned to a fourth-quarter
profit, benefiting from higher licensing fees and lower
research expenses. [ID:nN24137944]
 ($1=$1.02 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)