March 27, 2012 / 12:22 PM / 6 years ago

TSX falters after tapping 3-week high

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slumped on Tuesday as resource shares slid on softer oil and metals prices after rallying the previous session on hopes the Federal Reserve would take further action to stimulate the U.S. economy.

A Bay Street sign is seen in the heart of the financial district in Toronto, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The energy and materials groups, which make up some 40 percent of the broader index, led the market lower and dropped 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. <O/R> <GOL/> <MET/L>

Leading names on the downside included Centerra (CG.TO), which plummeted 15.1 percent to C$13.70 as the Canadian miner slashed its forecast for 2012 production at its flagship mine in Kyrgyzstan by about a third due to ice movement in the pit, a decline sure to weigh on the fragile economy of the Central Asian state.

Also lower was Nexen Inc NXY.TO, down 2.6 percent at C$18.08, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO), which fell 0.7 percent to C$32.88. First Quantum (FM.TO) sank 1.9 percent to C$18.84.

Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS, said with no major Canadian data to speak of, markets looked south for direction. A softer U.S. consumer confidence report gave investors reason to pause, he said.

“I don’t think it such a brutal number, but the markets had done fairly well coming into today. When you saw that it was an occasion for pause,” said Meslin.

Data showed Americans were more worried about inflation in March than at any time in the last 10 months and consumer confidence waned in the wake of higher gasoline prices.

Meslin also said money managers may be adjusting holdings as the end of the quarter nears. The index is on track to gain more than 4.5 percent for the quarter, and is set for its best quarterly performance since March 2011.

“After the large outperformance of equities in the past while, you’re going to see some allocation back into a more fixed-income asset base,” he said.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day off 62.75 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,512.04, after having earlier in the day climbed to a three-week peak of 12,603.71 on hopes the Federal Reserve would take further action to stimulate the U.S. economy.

U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday the U.S. economy needs to grow more quickly to get unemployment down, leading investors to take on more risk on hopes the central bank could conduct another round of quantitative easing.

Shares of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) sank 1.3 percent to C$77.90. Battling a fierce challenge from its largest shareholder, the company is setting performance records this year, Chief Executive Fred Green said on Tuesday in an unusually blunt response to his critics.

Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) was up 0.6 percent at C$38.46. Enbridge and Enterprise Products Partners will more than double capacity of the Seaway Pipeline and expand another line from Illinois to ship more crude oil out of the glutted U.S. Midwest.

Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Dan Grebler

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