* TSX down 17.51 points, or 0.13 percent, at 12,875.67
* U.S. debt negotiations key to investor sentiment
* Lower commodity prices weigh on resource-rich Canada index
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Oct 15 Canada's main stock index
slipped slightly in early trade on Tuesday, as nervous investors
looked to Washington for progress on fiscal negotiations to
avert a damaging U.S. debt default.
Hopes of a deal rose after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid, a Democrat, and his Republican counterpart, Mitch
McConnell, ended a day of talks on Monday, with Reid saying they
had made "tremendous progress".
"I suspect something will happen on the positive side (in
U.S. fiscal negotiations) but in the meantime the market is very
nervous," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.
Commodities were broadly lower, pushing the resource-heavy
Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index down
17.51 points, or 0.13 percent, at 12,875.67. It had opened in
the black then fallen sharply in the first hour of trade before
"It's very thin, very volatile, and all eyes are on
Washington," Michael said.
Gold miners were weaker, as optimism that U.S. lawmakers
could avert a default dragged prices of safe-haven bullion to
Goldcorp Inc fell 1.2 percent to C$24.14, while
Barrick Gold Corp gained 0.5 percent to C$17.90.
Pipeline operator Enbridge Inc declined 1.6 percent
to C$42.28, while Talisman Energy Inc fell 2.2 percent
BlackBerry Ltd gained 0.7 percent to C$8.41. The
struggling smartphone company on Tuesday issued an open letter
to its customers and partners in a string of newspapers in a bid
to reassure them.