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TSX Ends Near 1-Month High On Energy Stocks -- Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks settled at a near one-month high Monday, driven mostly by energy stocks on increased U.S. natural gas prices, notwithstanding eurozone sovereign debt concerns and some soft economic data globally. A contraction in the Canadian economy for February also weighed on investor sentiments.

Toronto's main index, the S&P/TSX, closed Monday at 12,292.69, up 54.94 points or 0.45 percent. The S&P/TSX Composite Index touched an intraday high of 12,292.69 and a low of 12,156.76.

The TSX Venture Index closed at 1,424.04, up 11.28 points or 0.80 percent. The index opened at 1,415.39 compared to its previous close of 1,412.76.

The major indices of the S&P/TSX Index finished somewhat mixed with the major gainers being the Energy Index up 1.46 percent, the Information Technology Index up 0.90 percent, and the Financial Index up 0.28 percent..

The major decliners were Diversified Metals & Mining Index down 1.39 percent, the Materials Index down 0.25 percent, the Health Care Index down 0.15 percent and the Global Gold Index down 0.29 percent,

Among Diversified Materials Index stocks First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) shed close to 3 percent and Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) moved down 1.64 percent. Belo Sun Mining Corp. (BSX.TO) gained 4.72 percent.

Financial stocks were under pressure with National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) down 0.22 percent, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) moved up 0.63 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was up 0.11 percent, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) gained 0.53 percent..

Crude oil prices dropped $0.06 to close at $104.87 a barrel on the NYMEX after some economic data from the Europe raised concerns about the economic growth in the region, with the Spanish economy slipping back into recession in the first quarter of 2012.

Among energy stocks Suncor Energy Inc. gained 3.16 percent, Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) moved up 2.73 percent, and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ.TO) added 3.15 percent. Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) shed 1.15 percent.

Gold prices edged down $0.60 to close at $1,664.20 an ounce Monday on the NYMEX, as the dollar was firm against most major currencies.

Among gold plays, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) shed 0.45 percent, while Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) lost 0.43 percent. Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG.TO) dropped 2.04 percent, while Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) gained 0.20 percent.

The Materials Index dropped with Mercator Minerals Ltd. (ML.TO) down 1.65 percent. Uranium One Inc. (UUU.TO) up 0.70 percent, while Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) edged up 0.36 percent.

Goldcorp. (G.TO) lost nearly 1.50 percent after announcing that the environmental permit approval for its El Morro copper-gold project was suspended by the Supreme Court of Chile.

Dundee Precious Metals (DPM.TO) dived over 10 percent after announcing that it had received first contact from the Namibian government on Tsumeb Smelter Audit.

Educational and professional materials publisher McGraw-Hill Ryerson (MHR.TO) gained over 7 percent, despite reporting a wider first quarter net loss of C$2.7 million or C$1.37 per share from last year.

Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM.TO) was up 2.39 percent, while transportation systems maker Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) climbed 2.21 percent.

In economic news, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in February, after creeping up 0.1 percent in January Economists were expecting February to match January's anemic growth. On the bright side, gains in wholesale trade and in the finance sector outweighed declines in retail trade and in the transportation and warehousing sector.

From south of the border, the Chicago PMI dropped in April to 56.2 percent from 63.3 percent in March. The gauges for production and new orders slowed dramatically to a 29-month low, according to the ISM-Chicago. A reading of over 50 percent is indicative of an expansion, but analysts expected a reading of 60.8 for April.

The U.S. Commerce Department said personal incomes grew slightly more than expected in March but growth in consumer spending slowed somewhat. U.S. personal incomes were up 0.4 percent in March, slightly higher than the 0.3 percent growth posted in February. This is slightly higher than the 0.3 percent growth predicted by economists. The February personal income was revised up from the 0.2 percent growth rate initially reported.

The Spanish economy slipped back into recession in the first quarter of 2012. Gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, the statistical office INE said.

In other economic news, eurozone annual inflation eased less than expected to 2.6 percent in April from 2.7 percent in March, flash estimate by Eurostat showed. Economists had forecast the rate to fall to 2.5 percent in April.

Data from the Federal Statistical Office earlier today showed retail sales in Germany increased for the first time in three months during March. The seasonally adjusted sales rose 0.8 percent month-on-month in real terms in March, following a 0.9 percent drop in February and 1 percent fall in January. Economists expected a sharper 1.1 percent rise in sales.

Elsewhere, eurozone annual inflation eased less than expected to 2.6 percent in April from 2.7 percent in March, flash estimate by Eurostat showed. Economists expected the rate to fall to 2.5 percent in April.

by RTT Staff Writer

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