* TSX composite up 1.51 points to 13,908.83
* Barrick Gold, Goldcorp biggest weights on market (Updates with details, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, April 26 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed on Tuesday as a drop in gold and silver prices hit shares of precious metal miners, offseting the boost to sentiment from a raft of strong U.S. earnings.
Silver and gold tumbled as investors sold on uncertainty about the direction of monetary policy in the United States ahead of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) had the biggest drag of any stock on the index, falling 2.5 percent to C$48.27. Goldcorp (G.TO), down 1.8 percent, and Silver Wheaton SLW.TO, down nearly 4 percent, also weighed.
“We saw a big spike in gold and silver yesterday and we’re seeing a bit of profit taking,” said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Van Arbor Asset Management in Vancouver.
“There’s a few competing forces in the market today. We saw a decent string of (U.S.) earnings reports this morning but we also saw a bit of weak data ... and in general we’re seeing commodities fairly weak.”
Adding further pressure to Barrick was its hefty all-cash C$7.3 billion bid for Equinox Minerals EQN.TO on Monday, which prompted China’s Minmetals Resources (1208.HK) to bow out of the battle. [ID:nL3E7FQ05D]
Barrick’s offer values Equinox at 14 times its 2010 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
“The company clearly has a strategy that they want to execute and could benefit long-term investors, but I think short-term investors are not happy with Barrick branching away from gold,” said Zohny.
Despite the boost from deals in the sector, base-metal miners were down 1.4 percent, as copper prices fell after investors digested data that shoed a plunge in China’s imports of the refined metal. [MET/L]
At 10:56 a.m. (1456 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 1.51 points at 13,908.83. But 9 of the 10 sectors were stronger, including buoyant financial stocks.
As well, data showed U.S. consumer confidence rose in April, although U.S. home prices slipped for an eighth straight month.
Zohny said the mixed economic data and anticipation of the Fed meeting and policy announcement on Wednesday, followed by an unprecedented press conference from Chairman Ben Bernanke, are contributing to volatility. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)