TORONTO – Toronto’s main stock index was lower on Wednesday morning as nagging uncertainty about Europe’s debt crisis pushed commodities lower and as U.S. tech darling Apple shocked investors with results that missed expectations.
Prices for oil and base metals were hurt by Moody’s downgrade of Spain’s sovereign debt rating, which further complicated the euro zone crisis. On the other side of the coin, safe-haven gold was hit by hopes for a speedy resolution to the crisis after a report that Europe may beef up its bailout fund.
Agnico Eagle was the most heavily weighted decliner, plunging 18.1 percent to C$47.48 after announcing it is indefinitely suspending mining operations and production at its Goldex mine in Quebec due to water inflow and ground instability.
“Gold had a pretty ugly day yesterday … and stocks still appear to be under some pressure, at least the big-cap ones, and the Agnico news was pretty disconcerting overall,” said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.
Goldcorp , down 3 percent at C$46.32, and Barrick Gold , off 2.2 percent at C$46.74, rounded out the top three laggards.
Also knocking market confidence was a mixed bag of U.S. earnings reports. Apple Inc’s results missed estimates for the first time in years as it sold far fewer iPhones than expected, sending its shares down almost 5 percent to $403.03. <.N>
At 10:26 a.m. (1426 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> was down 65.79 points, or 0.6 percent, at 11,987.32. Five of the index’s 10 main groups were weaker, with energy and financials largely flat.
The TSX rallied sharply on Tuesday after a story in Britain’s Guardian newspaper said that France and Germany had reached a deal to expand the euro zone’s rescue fund to more than 2 trillion euros, but two senior European Union officials later dismissed the report.
In Greece, center of the debt storm, unions began a 48-hour general strike, the biggest protest in years, as parliament prepared to vote on sweeping austerity measures designed to stave off a debt default.
“The whole euro thing is minute to minute depending on which minister says what and the glass is half full or half empty at any point in time,” Hand said, noting volumes are still very thin due to the uncertainty, exaggerating market moves.