March 16, 2011 / 6:52 PM / 7 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX struggles as Japan, Mideast fears weigh

* TSX down 92.50 points at 13,454.46

* Seven of 10 sectors stronger

* Oil, base metals, gold rebound (Updates to afternoon, recasts)

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index reversed a near 1 percent gain in volatile trading on Wednesday as Japan’s nuclear crisis and clashes in the Middle East weighed on investor sentiment despite higher commodity prices.

Materials slumped 0.9 percent after an early rally on rebounding prices for copper and gold. Teck Resources TCKb.TO slipped 1.6 percent to C$50.86 and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) fell 1.3 percent to C$47.82. [MET/L] [GOL/]

“The market hates, hates, hates uncertainty and we have nothing but, right now,” said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

“You’ve got the magnitude of the Japanese problems still to be unveiled ... you’ve got the unrest in the Middle East, you’ve got the uncertainty about the strength in the U.S. economy ... I could go on.”

The outcome of Japan’s nuclear crisis remained uncertain on Wednesday after workers withdrew briefly from a stricken power plant because of surging radiation levels and a helicopter failed to drop cooling water on the most troubled reactor. [ID:nL3EF450]

Uranium producers also extended losses after China froze nuclear approvals. Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) tumbled almost 11 percent to C$28.55. [ID:nTOE72F088]

Despite worries about natural disasters, geopolitical tensions and economic growth, Hutcheon said Canada was still relatively insulated, with strong resource prices cushioning the fall on Wednesday.

Energy stocks fell 0.4 percent, even as as oil prices rose by 2 percent as violence in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria renewed fears about oil supply in the region. [O/R]

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) edged 0.3 percent lower to C$41.76 and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) lost 1 percent to C$45.45

At 2:22 p.m. (1822 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 92.50 points, or 0.68 percent, at 13,454.46. Earlier, the index was up almost 1 percent. Seven of the 10 main sectors were lower, including financials, off 1.1 percent.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), dropped 1.6 percent to C$58.61, but insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) was up 0.4 percent at C$16.09 following a recent selloff.

“People initially overreacted to the amount of exposure that Manulife had in Japan, I think sober second thoughts are causing people to re-evaluate that,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment. (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson)

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