By John Tilak
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Tuesday with gold-mining stocks taking a beating as the price of bullion tumbled and investors gravitated towards riskier assets following U.S. and European economic data.
A 4 percent decline in the gold-mining group, which is down about 20 percent since the start of the year, more than offset gains in sectors such as financials and energy.
Markit's Euro zone Manufacturing PMI fell in March but topped a preliminary estimate. In the United States, new orders for factory goods rose in February and sales of sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks jumped in March.
U.S. and European stocks also rose on Tuesday, but the widespread market optimism resulted in a lack of safe-haven interest and sent the price of gold to a 2-1/2 week trough.
"The selling has been quite relentless," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver. "You're seeing a shift from speculative assets such as gold to better performing assets like equities."
"Gold has not lost its safe haven status," he added. "But there simply isn't as much demand for safe haven assets as there used to be a couple of years ago."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index (.GSPTSE) closed down 13.04 points, or 0.10 percent, at 12,682.10. Seven of the 10 main sectors of the index were higher.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, was down 3 percent as the price of bullion declined 1.5 percent.
Shares of TransCanada Corp (Toronto:TRP.TO - News) rose 0.7 percent to C$49.65 after it said it has begun to seek commitments from parties interested in transporting crude oil from Western Canada to Eastern Canadian markets on a natural gas pipeline it intends to convert to oil.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)