* TSX ends down 14.92 points, or 0.12 percent, at 12,388.71
* Index weighed down by miners hurt by falling bullion price
* Bombardier gains after Latvian order
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Dec 20 Canada's main stock index fell
on Thursday, as miners retreated in the face of sharp drops in
the price of gold and other metals and hurt by uncertainty over
stalled U.S. budget discussions.
Bullion fell to its lowest price since August, while silver
and platinum also retreated as heavy liquidation of positions
and signs of an improving U.S. economy triggered a technical
The U.S. economy - Canada's largest trading partner - grew
faster than previously thought in the third quarter but a
sluggish world economy and belt-tightening by Washington looks
set to put on the brakes again.
Adding to the negative tone, Republicans in the U.S. House
of Representatives pushed ahead with their own "fiscal cliff"
plan on Thursday, mu ddyi ng n egotiations with the White House to
avoid steep tax increases and spending cuts th at could push the
country back into recession. [I D:nL1E8NK3JM]
"It's a pretty tired market," said John Stephenson, senior
vice president at First Asset Investment Management. "The market
wants to go higher but there is all this uncertainty regarding
the fiscal cliff."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
e nded d own 1 4. 9 2 points, or 0.1 2 percent, at
12,38 8.7 1 .
Four of the 10 main sectors ended lower , with the materials
sector, which includes gold miners, leading the declines. B y
contrast, U.S. indices ended in positive territory.
Miner Goldcorp Inc finished down 2. 1 percent at
C$35.17 , w hile smaller Yamana Gold fell 2.4 percent to C$16.39
a nd Silver Wheaton Corp lost 1. 4 p ercent to C$34.39 .
Investors are also concerned about the fragility of the
global economy, said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung
"The markets are at levels anticipating an improving
economy, although not a very robust economy," he said, adding
that gold stocks could be in for another wild ride next year.
"By late next year, we should see some modest recovery (in
the materials sector) as I would expect China could be working
inventory down and be back in the market again," he said.
Energy shares slipped 0.4 percent, with U.S crude oil prices
edging higher and Brent sliding.
Shares of Bombardier Inc gained 3.1 percent to
C$3.68 after the Canadian aircraft and train maker said Latvia's
airBaltic has placed a firm order for 10 C-Series jets.
First Asset's Stephenson said the dips in some resource
stocks present b uying opportunities, adding that he likes
pr ospects for Canadian Natural Resources Ltd <C NQ.TO>, Suncor
En ergy Inc <SU .TO> an d Teck Resources Ltd<TC Kb.TO> an d that
First Quantum Min erals Ltd look s attractive below $20.