* TSX down 63.43 pts, or 0.5 pct, at 12,335.26
* Touches lowest level since Jan. 18
* U.S. retail data hurts materials
* Moody's euro zone downgrades weaken sentiment
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Feb 14 Canadian stocks touched
their lowest point in nearly a month on Tuesday morning with
mining and energy issues leading the way, hit by weak U.S.
retail sales data and a fresh round of euro zone credit
Investor confidence in the U.S. economy took a step back
after data showed retail sales rose less than forecast in
January as consumers cut back on car purchases and did less
U.S. consumers have been increasingly focused on paying down
debt since the recession, said Robert Gorman, chief portfolio
strategist at TD Waterhouse.
The bigger picture is one of a "fairly cautious consumer,
tending to focus on the basic goods and services as opposed to
the big-ticket items," he said.
The U.S. figures had an immediate impact on resource issues
with the index's heavyweight materials group falling 1 percent.
In the sector, diversified miner Teck Resources slid
1.6 percent to C$38.69, hit by another drop in copper prices.
Also in the materials group, fertilizer producer Potash Corp
dropped 1.2 percent to C$44.12.
Declines in oil and gas producers were led by Canadian
Natural Resources, which tumbled nearly 4 percent to
C$36.69 after the company said its Horizon oil sands upgrader in
northern Alberta would be shut down for several weeks longer
than expected to repair a processing unit.
At 11:07 a.m. (1607 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's
S&P/TSX composite index was down 63.43 points, or 0.5
percent, at 12,335.26. Earlier it fell as low as 12,324.23, its
weakest level since Jan. 18.
Financials were also down, falling 0.6 percent. Royal Bank
of Canada dropped 0.6 percent to C$53.36, while Bank of
Nova Scotia fell 0.3 percent to C$52.30.
Market optimism spurred by Greece's approval on Sunday of
painful austerity measures to secure another bailout was
shortlived as credit rating agency Moody's put the United
Kingdom's triple-A rating in jeopardy for the first time late
Monday and warned it may cut France and Austria as well.
"It was a shot across the bow," said Gorman of the Moody's
Not all the news was negative for the market, as German data
suggested that Europe's bulwark economy is picking up speed and
a strong Italian bond sale added to signs that financing
pressures were being contained.
Also a report by the Conference Board of Canada said on
Tuesday that signs of a U.S. economic comeback lifted the
outlook for Canadian corporate profitability in December and
January, halting a five-month slide.
The research organization's leading indicator of industry
profitability index climbed 0.04 percent in December and 0.07
percent in January, according to revised figures.