CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits one-month low as euro zone concerns resurface

Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:08am EDT
 
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* TSX falls 48.41 points, or 0.38 percent, to 12,657.97
    * Eight of 10 main sectors decline
    * Agrium shares fall about 3 percent as board battle heats
up

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
slumped to a one-month low on Wednesday, led by declines in
financial and energy shares, as weak economic data from the euro
zone and worries about the Cyprus bailout weighed on investor
sentiment.
    The losses were tempered by gains made by gold-mining
stocks, benefiting from a jump in the price of bullion, whose
appeal as a safe haven tends to increase on negative economic
news.
    Confidence in the euro zone's economy dropped in March,
falling after four straight months of gains, the European
Commission said. 
    "Most parts of Europe show signs of an accelerating
downturn," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
"I haven't seen anything that gives me a strong degree of
confidence in the European economies."
    "There's lots of confidence building, but at the end of the
day the economies actually have to heal."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was down 48.41 points, or 0.38 percent, at 12,657.97.
It earlier fell to 12,622.50, its lowest level since Feb. 27.
    Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
    Financials, the index's weightiest sector, lost almost 1
percent. Royal Bank of Canada gave back 1.1 percent to
C$60.77, and Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 1 percent to
C$83.86.
    Energy shares declined 0.7 percent as oil prices stumbled.
 
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, added
0.3 percent as gold stocks climbed. Gold prices were up on the
bleak news out of Europe. 
    Gold shares, down about 16 percent since the start of the
year, advanced 1.6 percent.
    "I like them as buys," Skipp said of gold stocks. "I see it
as a nice entry point for the first time in a couple of years." 
    In company news, the battle for Agrium Inc's future
intensified ahead of an April 9 vote after the two most
influential proxy advisory firms disagreed on the candidates
shareholders should back in the election for Agrium's board of
directors. 
    Shares of the fertilizer maker were down 2.8 percent at
C$97.56.