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CORRECTION: TSX Dives On Commodities, US Data - Canadian Commentary

Toronto stocks were extending losses for a third session Thursday morning amid sell-offs in commodities and on mixed earnings reports from Canadian companies. Also, weak economic data from the U.S., Canada's largest trading partner, weighed on trader sentiment even as encouraging employment data from the Germany comes in as a silver lining today.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dived 193.55 points or 1.56 percent to 12,220.31, levels not seen since early January.

The Diversified Materials Index continued to suffer losses, shedding over 2 percent. Teck Resources (TCK_B.TO) and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) were down almost 2 percent each, while Inmet Mining (IMN.TO) was slipping close to 1 percent.

The price of crude oil was extending losses for a second session as traders fret over demand growth after a report showed U.S. crude stockpiles increased more than double of what analysts expected. Crude for May lost $2.00 to $103.41 a barrel.

In the oil patch, Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (BIR.TO) dived nearly 18 percent after announcing the termination of its corporate sale process.

Niko Resources (NKO.TO) shed 5 percent, while Baytex Energy Corp. (BTE.TO) and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) were losing over 2 percent.

Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE.TO) eased 0.50 percent after it said it would buy up 140 million common share of Pacific Infrastructure Inc, a Panama-based private company, at $1.00 per share.

The price of gold was moving lower, with gold for June delivery slipping $5.30 to $1,655.20 an ounce.

In the gold space, Royal Gold (RGL.TO) shed close to 2 percent.

Russia focused silver miner Silver Bear Resources (SBR.TO) plummeted nearly 10 percent after reporting a full-year 2011 net loss of C$12.5 million or C$0.30 per share, wider than the net loss of C$2.3 million or C$0.06 per share the previous year.

Silver mining company Pan American Silver (PAA.TO) eased 0.40 percent after it said it had obtained necessary approvals to acquire Minefinders Corporation Ltd. (MFL.TO) for about C$1.5 billion.

Ladies' apparel specialty chain Reitmans Canada (RET.TO) surrendered over 1 percent after reporting that its fourth-quarter net earnings decreased to C$4.67 million or C$0.07 per share from C$13.82 million or C$0.21 per share in the year ago quarter.

Independent asset management company Sprott Inc. (SII.TO) moved down nearly 6 percent after reporting a plunge in its fourth-quarter net income to C$4.6 million or C$0.03 per share from C$108.6 million or C$0.72 per share in the prior-year period. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings per share of C$0.06 for the quarter.

In economic news Statistics Canada said the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) edged up 0.2 percent in February, led by petroleum and coal products and primary metals. Meanwhile, the Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) declined 0.5 percent, largely because of mineral fuels.

From south of the border, the U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims edged down to 359,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 364,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 350,000 from the 348,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Simultaneously, a report from the Commerce Department showed that GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter, unchanged from the previous estimate and in line with economist estimates.

From the euro zone, Germany's unemployment rate declined to 6.7 percent in March from 6.8 percent in February, data from the Federal Labor Agency showed. Economists had forecast the jobless rate to remain steady at 6.8 percent for a third consecutive month. The number of unemployed persons declined by 18,000 from a month earlier in March. Economists expected the number of unemployed to decrease by 10,000.

Meanwhile, euro zone economic confidence dropped marginally in March after improving in January and February, survey data from the European Commission revealed. The economic sentiment index fell to 94.4 from 94.5 a month ago. The reading was below the consensus forecast of 94.5.

by RTT Staff Writer

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