Stocks take tumble


The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday as indexes largely held solid gains racked up in a relief rally sparked by a last-minute deal to avert big tax hikes and spending cuts in the United States.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 70.33 points to close the day at 12,470.44

The Canadian dollar sifted off 0.26 cents to 101.21 cents U.S.

The gold sector was down as Goldcorp Inc. faded $1.81, or 4.9%, to $35.14 while Iamgold Corp. lost 63 cents, or 5.4%, to $11.00.

The base metals sector was off with March copper down two cents at $3.72 U.S. a pound. Rio Alto Mining declined 18 cents to $5.12 and Taseko Mines slipped 11 cents to $3.07.

The consumer staples sector declined with convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard down 25 cents to $49.00.

Tech stocks also stalled as Research In Motion Ltd. moved down 22 cents to $11.35.

The energy sector moved higher as the February crude contract inched up. Canadian Natural Resources gained 33 cents to $29.54 while Crescent Point Energy gave back $1.02 to $36.28.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange shed 13.67 points to 1,226.17

All but three of the 14 Toronto subgroups closed the session in the red, weighed mostly by gold issues, tumbling 3.6%, materials, descending 2.8%, and the metals and mining group, off 1.3%.

The two gainers were health-care, up 0.5%, and utilities, ahead 0.3%. Financials were flat on the day.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks traded slightly lower Thursday afternoon, following the release of the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved off 21.19 points to close Thursday at 13,391.40, after yesterday's 300-point-plus gain.

The S&P 500 dropped 3.05 points to 1,459.37. The Nasdaq Composite went down 11.70 points to 3,100.57

The minutes from the Fed's December policy meeting showed some members expressed concern about the size of the Fed's balance sheet and weighed ending the central bank's bond buying program sooner than most investors expected.

Back in December, the Fed announced plans to expand its controversial stimulus program and said it would keep accommodative policies in place until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5% or inflation exceeds 2.5% a year.

Bank stocks, which were among the biggest gainers on Wednesday, mostly traded lower Thursday. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup dropped between 0.5% and 1% in afternoon trading.

In corporate news, Family Dollar shares plunged after the discount retailer reported earnings that missed forecasts and issued a weak outlook.

Shares of Gap moved up slightly, after the retailer reported stronger-than-expected same store sales and announced a new $1-billion U.S. stock buyback.

Limited shares slid after the owner of Victoria's Secret said same store sales fell short of forecasts.

Shares of spam maker Hormel rallied after the company announced it was paying $700 million to acquire the Skippy brand from Unilever

Shares of SunPower spiked after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway invested between $2 billion and $2.5 billion U.S. in two of the solar company's projects.

Economically speaking, investors got a fresh look at the labour market, with the government's weekly report on initial jobless claims and the monthly report on private sector jobs from payroll processor ADP.

The private sector added 215,000 jobs in December, according to ADP. And the government reported first-time jobless claims rose 10,000 to 372,000 in the latest week.

The two jobs reports serve as a prelude to the government's closely watched monthly labour report, due Friday morning. Economists expect job growth continued at a modest pace in December, with employers adding 150,000 jobs.

In November, employers added 146,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% as workers dropped out of the labour force.

Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note lost ground, boosting yields to 1.90% from Wednesday's 1.83% Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices dropped 43 cents to $92.69 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices fell $24.60 to $1,664.40 U.S. an ounce.



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