BUSINESS

TSX moves lower as concerns over Spain, U.S. economy grab attention

09/28/2012 09:03 EDT | Updated 11/28/2012 05:12 EST
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market ended the session lower Friday as concern about Spain's debt and disappointing economic data out of the United States kept traders cautious.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved down 21.39 points to 12,317.46, ending the week half a per cent lower than a week ago. The TSX Venture Exchange crept up 12.20 points to 1,334.51.

The Canadian dollar slid 0.24 of a cent to 101.71 cents US.

A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed that Americans spent more in August even though their incomes barely grew. But the spending increase was driven by higher gasoline prices.

Investors were cautious over Spain, a day after the country's government announced big spending cuts it hopes will convince potential bailout creditors and investors it has a rock-solid plan to heal its public finances.

The Bank of Spain released an audit Friday showing that seven of the country's banks failed stress tests. Moody's, the credit rating agency, is also expected to weigh in on Spain's creditworthiness, and there are concerns the government's rating will be cut to "junk" status.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada reported that the economy grew by 0.2 per cent in July, after a downwardly revised 0.1 per cent increase in June. The July figure was better than the 0.1 per cent expected by analysts.

This trading session also marked the end of the quarter, which can lead to some volatile trading as investors buy and sell large amounts of stock. Traders tend to take profit at the end of the quarter, though there is also some caution headed into the final months of the year, said John Johnston, chief strategist at Davis Rea Ltd.

"It's nothing severe yet, but it certainly looks like the market is tired after a big run," he said.

"Markets have had a very solid gain since early June when they bottomed."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials backed off 48.84 points to 13,437.13. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 20.37 points to 3,116.23 and the S&P 500 index was off 6.48 points to 1,440.67.

On the TSX, the information technology sector was the sole gainer, rising 2.3 per cent, after a surprising financial report from BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM).

Shares of RIM gained 8.1 per cent, or 56 cents, to $7.52. The technology company said after markets closed Thursday that its quarterly loss was US$235 million or 45 cents per diluted share. On an adjusted basis, the loss was $142 million or 27 cents per share, which was much better than the 47 cents per share loss expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The company's stock, once a major influencer on the TSX, has lost much of its clout on the market as its share price eroded.

Energy stocks were also lower, down 0.5 per cent, while November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up 34 cents to settle at US$92.19 a barrel. Crude picked up about seven per cent of its value in the quarter.

December gold bullion decreased $6.60 to US$1,773.90 an ounce. The price of gold has risen about 11 per cent since the start of the quarter. December copper was up 1.4 cents at US$3.76 a pound.

Niko Resources Ltd. (TSX:NKO) shares rose nearly nine per cent after that company said it is suspending its quarterly dividend as it embarks on what it describes as the most significant exploration program in its history. The Ocean Monarch drilling rig is expected to start moving toward an exploration block in Indonesia on Sunday. Its shares gained $1.09 to $13.58.

Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) named Klaus Goersch, a former executive at discount carrier Air Tran Airways, as its chief operating officer on Friday. He takes the role on Monday. Shares were unchanged at $1.27.

CGA Mining Ltd. (TSX:CGA), which has signed a deal to be acquired by B2Gold Corp. (TSX:BTO), said Friday it earned US$6 million in its latest financial year, down sharply due to problems at its gold project in the Philippines. The company said the profit amounted to 1.78 cents per diluted share for the financial year ended June 30, compared with a profit of $65.1 million or 19.2 cents per diluted share a year ago. Its shares were down 10 cents to $2.80.