08/13/2012 08:37 EDT | Updated 10/13/2012 05:12 EDT

TSX moves lower, commodities decline amid poor Japanese economic data

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower Monday as traders cashed in on some of last week's strong gains while another dose of subpar economic data from Asia depressed commodity prices.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 52.56 points to 11,838.83, following a two per cent rise last week on hopes that central banks will move to keep a flagging global economic recovery going. The TSX Venture Exchange was ahead 6.37 points to 1,197.37.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.15 of a cent at 100.76 cents US.

U.S. markets were mainly lower as the Dow Jones industrials slipped 38.52 points to 13,169.43.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.66 points to 3,022.52 and the S&P 500 index slipped 1.76 points to 1,404.11.

TSX losses were led by sliding base metal stocks after data showing a steep falloff in Japanese economic growth during the second quarter.

Japan’s economy grew by only 0.3 per cent in the second quarter from the previous three-month period, half the rate that was expected. It was also sharply lower from the first quarter’s upwardly revised rate of 1.3 per cent.

The stall reflected the fallout from Europe’s debt crisis and a sharp rise in the value of the yen that made it more difficult for the country’s export sector to compete.

The data followed news on Friday that export growth in China during July plunged to just one per cent from the previous month’s 11.3 per cent, which was well below forecasts of about five per cent.

But the dismal report helped fuel speculation that China's central bank was preparing to act with some type of measure to spur business activity.

Investors are also hoping to see further stimulus action from the U.S. Federal Reserve and also counting on the European Central Bank to do whatever is necessary to keep the continent's monetary union intact.

"We have a market running on central bank rhetoric," said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

"It shows you how much pessimism is priced into this market and if you just provide a little bit of a vacuum of bad news, the natural direction for the market at this point is probably up in the interim."

On Tuesday, traders will be looking for the latest estimates of second-quarter growth in the 17-nation eurozone, July retail sales in the U.S. and Canadian manufacturing shipments for June.

The TSX base metals sector was off 1.36 per cent as the Japanese data pushed September copper on the Nymex down another four cents to US$3.35 a pound. Copper slipped three cents Friday in the wake of the disappointing Chinese data. China is the biggest consumer of the metal.

Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) lost 75 cents to $29.58 while Taseko Mines (TSX:TKO) was down eight cents to $2.60.

The gold sector was down about 1.2 per cent as December gold also lost early momentum to move down $10.20 to US$1,612.60 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded 42 cents to $36.73 while Iamgold (TSX:IMG) slipped 20 cents to $11.18.

The energy sector dropped 0.69 per cent as oil prices fell for a second day. Benchmark crude for September delivery lost early gains, inching 14 cents lower at $92.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Crude prices also retreated Friday after the International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for global crude demand for the year to 89.6 million barrels a day from 89.9 million due to a "combination of persistently high prices and a weak economic backdrop."

Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gave back 80 cents to $30.15 while Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) gained 57 cents to $45.28.

A major decliner was TMX Group (TSX:X) as shares in the stock market operator fell $2.75 or 5.53 per cent to $47. On Friday, Maple Group Acquisition Corp. completed its long-extended offer to acquire the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday. Maple has been renamed TMX Group Ltd., which will own 80 per cent of TMG Group Inc., which lists its shares publicly.

"There there was a large holder, probably several large holders, that built a position, either got what they wanted out of it or didn’t and are getting out," added Fehr.

"That would be my view based on the fact that there is nothing out there to me suggesting that there is more of a fundamental issue."

Elsewhere on the corporate front, shares in Leon’s Furniture Ltd. (TSX:LNF) fell seven cents to $11.55 as the firm reported a nearly 20 per cent drop in its second-quarter earnings compared with a year ago as it marketing costs rose. Leon’s earned $9 million or 13 cents per share, down from $11.2 million or 16 cents per share a year ago. Same-store corporate sales fell 5.8 per cent compared with the second quarter of 2011.

Ensign Energy Services Inc. (TSX:ESI) lost 17 cents to $15.52 as it reported $18.7 million in quarterly net income, or 12 cents per common share, up from $16.1 million or 11 cents per share a year ago. Revenue increased to $463.9 million from $334.4 million in the year-earlier period.

Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) will cut about 4,000 positions at its Motorola Mobility subsidiary, about one-fifth of the cellphone maker’s total workforce. Google acquired Motorola Mobility Holdings earlier this year for US$12.5 billion as part of its telecom strategy. Google rose 2.8 per cent to US$660.01.