TSX moves lower on broad market weakness, commodities modestly higher

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market moved lower Monday following weekend reports of the latest high-level talks on resolving the “fiscal cliff” stalemate in Washington.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 46.11 points to 12,250.61 near midday, while the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 4.99 points to 1,188.61.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.23 of a cent to 101.60 cents US.

TSX energy stocks were down 0.2 per cent as the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 76 cents to US$87.49 a barrel.

March copper was down two cents at US$3.67 a pound while February gold bullion lifted 50 cents to US$1,697.50 an ounce.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner reportedly told President Barack Obama on the weekend that he could be flexible on raising taxes on some wealthy earners in exchange for cuts to benefit programs cherished by Democrats.

A White House official says the president and Republican leader are meeting at the White House to discuss the pending fiscal cliff and deficit reduction.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials gained 69.76 points to 13,204.77, the Nasdaq rose 20.88 points to 2,992.21. The S&P 500 index was off 10.84 points at 1,424.42.

A survey of top business economists released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics showed that most believe that modest growth will be ongoing in 2013, led by rising demand for housing.

Based on the survey, NABE sees economic growth of 2.1 per cent after 2.2 per cent growth in 2012.

In Canada, the real-estate industry’s main association released a revised forecast for 2012 housing resales. The Canadian Real Estate Association now projects 456,300 units will be sold in 2012, half a percentage point below last year’s level. The Canadian national average home price is projected to rise by 0.3 per cent to $363,900 in 2012.

In corporate developments, copper miner Inmet Mining Corp. (TSX:IMN) says it has yet to receive the increased $5.1-billion takeover bid that was announced by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM) on Sunday. Inmet is urging shareholders to withhold taking action until it can evaluate the details. Inmet shares rose five per cent to $73.30.

TSX financial stocks were ahead 0.2 per cent, while Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF) has agreed to sell its U.S. annuity unit and certain life insurance businesses for US$1.35 billion to Delaware Life Holdings, a company owned by shareholders of Guggenheim Partners. Sun Life shares dropped 55 cents to $27.28.

Shares of Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) were down after the company said its new BlackBerry 10 operating system is undergoing a invitation-only user testing at 120 select government and private-sector customers across various industries. The company’s stock was down 24 cents to $13.64.

Overseas, Japanese shares outperformed all others on hopes that the new government will soon enact fresh stimulus measures.

The country’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 0.9 per cent to close at 9,828.88, its highest level since April, after the country’s Liberal Democratic party swept back into power with a landslide victory in weekend elections .

Elsewhere in Asia, China’s shares fared fairly well as its new leaders promised more spending if needed to underpin a wobbly economic recovery. Those hopes helped the Shanghai Composite rise 0.4 per cent to 2,160.34 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite index to end 0.4 per cent higher to 819.58.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.4 per cent at 5,896 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 per cent to 7,590. The CAC-40 in France was 0.3 per cent lower at 3,634.