08/02/2012 08:56 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT

North American markets backtrack as ECB's Draghi falls short of expectations

TORONTO - Stock markets ended lower on Thursday as traders were disappointed with the outcome of the European Central Bank's attempt to tackle the debt crisis in the region.

Hopes were high the ECB would announce more immediate steps, considering the ECB president's pledge last week to do "whatever it takes" to keep the euro intact, but those expectations were quickly dashed, sending markets in Europe lower as well.

Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 112.03 points to 11,506.50 and the TSX Venture Exchange moved down 15.98 points to 1,173.65.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.19 of a cent to 99.29 cents US.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 92.18 points to 12,878.88 and the broader S&P edged down 10.32 points to 1,365. The Nasdaq was off 10.44 points at 2,909.77.

The ECB disappointed markets once again after Draghi's earlier comments pumped up expectations, BMO senior economist Benjamin Reitzes said in a note.

"With inflation expected to fall below two per cent in 2013 and downside growth risks, the ECB's lack of bold action to boost the crisis-wracked region borders on irresponsible."

In Europe, Germany's DAX ended down 2.2 per cent at 6,607 while the CAC-40 in France fell 2.7 per cent to 3,232. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.9 per cent at 5,662.

However, Draghi did say that more action would be taken, in particular a new effort to purchase government bonds in an effort to lower borrowing costs for Spain and Italy. Specific details are likely to be revealed in the coming weeks, Draghi said.

"Draghi can talk all he wants, but the trouble is that (the ECB) really isn't (like) the Fed in the U.S. — it doesn't have the same capabilities," said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates.

"Quite frankly, U.S. markets had a pretty good run, and Europe had a pretty good bounce up in the last little while ... this hasn't really pulled back that much."

The TSX energy sector was down two per cent as the September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed $1.78 lower to US$87.13 a barrel.

The gold sector was down 0.6 per cent while the price of gold was down for the third consecutive session. December gold fell $16.60 to close at US$1,590.70 an ounce.

Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) has replaced president and chief executive Tye Burt in a decision it says is necessary to move forward with its plan to improve the Toronto-based miner's lagging performance. Shares were down 45 cents to $7.56.

September copper moved down 8.4 cents to US$3.29 a pound.

In U.S. data, more people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the data was likely skewed higher by seasonal factors.

Weekly applications increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell for the sixth straight week to 365,500, the lowest since March 31.

In earnings, Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) says its second-quarter profit shrank by 96 per cent to $11 million, as a decline in the fair value of its derivatives portfolio offset gains in the company's operational profit. Its shares fell 61 cents to $39.90.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (TSX:VRX) shares were up after the pharma company reported a $21.6-million net loss, or seven cents per share, in the second quarter compared to $56.4 million or 18 cents per share a year earlier. The company's weaker results were related to restructuring and acquisition charges, and also the settlement costs of a class-action lawsuit. Its shares gained five cents to $47.21.

Gildan Activewear Inc. (TSX:GIL) says its third-quarter profit fell to US$78.6 million, almost $10 million below the same time last year, as it absorbed restructuring and other costs related to an acquisition in May. Shares were up seven cents to $28.30.

First Uranium (TSX:FIU.UN), which is winding up its operations, cut Thursday the amount it estimates unitholders will receive to at least 12.5 cents per unit from approximately 22 cents per unit. The company attributed the lower estimate to changes in exchange rates as well as lower than expected gold prices and production from the operations. Shares dropped 38 per cent, or nine cents, to 14.5 cents.