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TSX Ends Lower On Economic Data - Canadian Commentary

Toronto stocks ended lower for a third session at a three-week low Thursday, led by financial and energy stocks with continued concerns over global economic growth outlook. Some soft economic data from the U.S., Canada's largest trading partner, also weighed on investor sentiments.

Toronto's main index, the S&P/TSX, closed Thursday at 12,339.36, down 74.50 points or 0.60 percent. The S&P/TSX Composite Index touched an intraday high of 12,413.84 and a low of 12,194.53.

The TSX Venture Index closed at 1,549.78, down 0.47 points or 0.03 percent. The index opened at 1,550.59 compared to its previous close of 1,550.25.

Most components of the S&P/TSX Index were in the red, led by the Energy, Financial, and Global Gold Indices. The Diversified Metals & Mining Index gained an impressive 1.32 percent.

The Metals & Mining Index gains were led by Teck Resources (TCK.B.TO) up 0.38 percent and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) up 4.54 percent. Scorpio Mining Corporation (SPM.TO) shed 9.35 percent., while Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK.TO) added 1.63 percent. Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) shed 1.56 percent.

Crude prices plummeted on Thursday, mostly on demand concerns after the Saudi Arabian oil minister assured his country would be able to up oil production to check soaring prices. Oil prices were also impacted by huge U.S. crude stockpiles as per the Energy Information Administration yesterday.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, dropped $2.63 or 2.5 percent to close at $102.78 a barrel on the NYMEX.

The Energy Index gained 1.30 percent with Ithaca Energy Inc. (IAE.TO) gaining 2.30 percent. Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) dropped 2.13 percent and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ.TO) shed 1.07 percent. Heavyweight Suncor Energy Inc. edged down 0.09 percent.

Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (BIR.TO) plunged over 20.63 percent after announcing the termination of its corporate sale process.

Transportation systems maker Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) dropped 0.24 percent, while Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM.TO) gained 0.22 percent.

Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE.TO) gained 0.21 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.

Gold for June delivery, the most actively traded contract, dropped $5.60 or 0.3 percent to close at $1,654.90 an ounce Thursday on the NYMEX. The Global Gold Index gained 0.11 percent.

Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG.TO) shed 3.51 percent, Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) gained 0.76 percent, and Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) lost 0.31 percent. Avion Gold Corp. (AVR.TO) gained 0.88 percent, while Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) dropped 0.65 percent. Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) fell 0.14 percent.

The Materials Index fell 0.06 percent with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) dropping 2.35 percent, Uranium One Inc. (UUU.TO) shed 3.11 percent and Mercator Minerals Ltd. (ML.TO) surrendering 3.55 percent.

The Financial Index slipped 0.89 percent with Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC.TO) shedding 2.40 percent and Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF.TO) down 1.83 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) dropped 0.95 percent, while the Royal Bank (RY.TO) fell 1.41 percent.

Russia focused silver miner Silver Bear Resources (SBR.TO) plummeted over 9 percent after reporting a full-year 2011 net loss of C$12.5 million or C$0.30 per share, which was wider than the loss of C$2.3 million or C$0.06 per share reported last year.

Pan American Silver (PAA.TO) gained 3.30 percent after it said it had obtained necessary approvals to acquire Minefinders Corp. Ltd. (MFL.TO) for about C$1.5 billion.

Ladies' apparel specialty chain Reitmans Canada (RET.TO) surrendered over 1 percent after reporting a decline in fourth-quarter earnings 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) gained 0.66 percent after reporting a fourth-quarter profit that plunged to C$4.6 million or C$0.03 per share from C$108.6 million or C$0.72 per share a year ago. Analysts expected earnings of C$0.06 per share 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. The Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) declined 0.5 percent, largely on 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 eurozone, 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 RTTNews Staff Writer

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