CANADA STOCKS-TSX dives back below 12,000 as commodities sag

Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:59pm EDT
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* TSX falls 0.68 percent to 11,962.97

* Materials, energy sectors lead slide

* Strong U.S. dollar weighs on commodity prices (Updates to close, adds details, quotes)

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, March 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed lower on Wednesday after two sessions of gains, slipping back below the 12,000 mark as the market came under pressure from a stronger U.S. dollar and falling commodity prices.

The index's powerhouse gold stocks led the way lower, with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote), the world's biggest gold producer, falling 3.3 percent to C$38.15, and Goldcorp Inc (G.TO: Quote) dropping 3.3 percent to C$38.23.

Gold slid to a six-week low as the greenback rose more than 1 percent versus the euro, with a ratings downgrade of Portugal and persistent worries over debt-laden Greece weighing on the euro ahead of a European Union summit on March 25-26. [GOL/] [ID:nLDE62N14Y] [FRX/]

Sources told Reuters Germany and France were still discussing whether to involve the International Monetary Fund in any standby aid mechanism for Greece, and what form any additional contribution by euro zone states might take.

"It looks like the IMF may have a part in any sort of bailout, so I think that's making a few people nervous," said Youssef Zohny, associate portfolio manager at Van Arbor Asset Management in Vancouver.   Continued...