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TSX Flat Amid Weak Commodities, Value Buying - Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks were struggling for direction Tuesday morning amid weak commodities and on worries over global economic growth. Soft trade data out of China earlier today and disappointing jobs data from the US last week rekindled global economic growth concerns.

However, value buying after four straight days of losses supported stock prices.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index shed 21.53 points or 0.18 percent to 11,996.97, after losing nearly 500 points or 4 percent in the past four straight sessions.

The price of crude oil was extending losses for a second session Tuesday morning after data showed that China unexpectedly swung to a trade surplus in March, which raised concerns about oil demand growth in the world's second-biggest consumer. China recorded a $5.35 billion trade surplus in March as import growth eased back from a 13-month peak while exports grew faster than expected, customs data showed. Crude for May delivery was down $0.69 to $101.77 a barrel.

Oil and gas industry services provider GASFRAC Energy Services (GFS.TO) dived over 18 percent after announcing that revenues and profit before income taxes for the first quarter of 2012 are expected to be lower than for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Calfrac Well Services (CFW.TO) and Trican Well Services (TCW.TO) shed around 4 percent each.

TriOil Resources Ltd. (TOL.V) lost over 6 percent despite reporting a narrower fourth quarter net loss of C$13.19 million or C$0.37 per share compared to a net loss of C$37.93 million or C$1.38 per share last year.

The price of gold was moving lower, with gold for June losing $6.50 to $1,637.40 an ounce.

Among gold plays, Royal Gold (RGL.TO) and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) were up around 1 percent each.

Precious metals miner Premier Gold Mines (PG.TO) added nearly 2 percent after it said it would acquire the high-grade Cove Gold Project in Nevada for approximately $28 million.

Bombardier (BBD_B.TO) inaugurated a new office in Shanghai, which will be home to the Bombardier Commercial Aircraft teams working with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd., Bombardier Aerospace's Supply Chain organization in China, and is the headquarters for the Bombardier Commercial Aircraft sales and marketing team for China and North Asia. The stock eased over 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the Diversified Materials Index was up nearly 2 percent, with First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) gaining nearly 4 percent.

Augusta Resource Corp. (AZC.TO) moved up 18 percent after announcing the receipt of major permit for Rosemont Copper project

In economic news from south of the border, the U.S., Commerce Department's figures put the level of inventories for wholesalers at a seasonally adjusted level of $478.9 billion in February, reflecting a 0.9 percent increase from January levels. Most economists had expected a more modest 0.6 percent increase in inventories. Furthermore, January figures, which had initially shown a 0.4 percent increase in inventories, were upwardly revised to show 0.6 percent growth.

From the euro zone, Germany's merchandise trade surplus increased more than economists expected in February, data released by the Federal Statistical Office showed. The trade surplus increased to EUR14.7 billion in February from EUR11.9 billion a year earlier. Economists were looking for a trade surplus of EUR12 billion. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the trade balance was a surplus of EUR13.6 billion.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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