(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - UK) Toronto's main market was back in the red Wednesday, on slumping commodities and skepticism that EU leaders will be able to devise a plan in the day's meetings regarding the region's debt crisis.
As at 1:00 pm EDT, the main S&P/TSX Composite Index had fallen 145.55 points or 1.27% to 11,306.23, while the more junior S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index also dipped 13.70 points, or 1.10%, to 1,233.05.
Gold prices continued to decline, with prices for June delivery down 37.00 to 1,539.60 an ounce, while crude oil for June slipped 1.45 to 90.40 per barrel.
Silver futures also fell 3.10% to 27.30 an ounce, while the base metal copper contract retreated 2.45% to 3.40 a pound.
In Toronto, materials, energy and financials were all down, falling 1.35%, 2.07% and 1.39% respectively.
In energy, Talisman Energy (TSE:TLM) shed 2.88% on Wednesday, while Suncor Energy (TSE:SU) declined 2.30%.
The Canadian arm of the global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released its "Pipelines, Politics and Price" report in advance of a conference it is hosting in Calgary this week.
The report discusses the challenges facing Canadian oil and gas expansion into energy-hungry Asian markets and stated that Canada is "perilously close" to reaching the limits of its energy exports to the United States, and expansion to new markets will require Ottawa to produce a national energy strategy.
Despite the fact that major providers like Enbridge (TSE:ENB), down 2.04% Wednesday, are spending billions to grow Canada's pipeline capacity to export more oil to the US, PwC made note of growing U.S. domestic production - mainly through sources of shale gas and tight oil - as a reason for Canadian companies to look beyond their best energy customers.
Elsewhere in the sector, Birchcliff Energy (TSE:BIR) shed 3.69%, and Encana Corp. (TSE:ECA) was down 1.76%.
In mining, Romarco Minerals (TSE:R) plunged 27.16% on the news that its Environmental Impact Statement for its flagship Haile Gold Mine in South Carolina, will be delayed.
Mercator Minerals (TSE:ML) saw a sharp dip of 5.88%, while copper heavyweight Teck Resources (TSE:TCK.B) shed 1.23%.
Gold giant Kinross (TSE:K) lost 2.2%, while Goldcorp (TSE:G), and Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) posted slight gains of 0.86% and 0.60% respectively, even as the yellow metal continued to slip in price.
In the financial sector, insurer Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) fell 3.10%, while Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) also dipped 2.46%.
After Toronto's main market posted its biggest one-day gain in six weeks on Tuesday, investors were skittish about the outcome of Wednesday's European Union summit.
In corporate news, Canada's biggest banks began their second quarter reporting season Wednesday, with Bank of Montreal (TSE:BMO) posting a 27% jump in profits, helped by the 2011 acquisition of U.S. lender Marshall & Ilsley.
The Bank of Nova Scotia (TSE:BNS) announced Tuesday it has agreed to sell the Toronto office towers that house its corporate headquarters for 1.27 billion to a pair of Canadian real estate investment trusts.
Just a week after Canadian Pacific (TSE:CP) saw major management and board changes, Teamsters Canada announced Wednesday that a strike against CP is now underway.
As a result of the strike, CP has suspended its freight service across the country, after the company and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) have so far failed to reach new collective agreements.
CP's shares fell 1.67 to 73.25.
In other corporate news, CAE (TSE:CAE) said Wednesday fourth-quarter earnings jumped 17 percent on revenue gains, but also reported more than 300 job cuts as it refocuses resources in response to military budget cuts in Europe.
The flight simulator and training company said it would slash its 8,000 workforce by four percent, which amounts to around 300 jobs. Those affected have already been notified.
Canaccord Financial (TSE:CF) swung to a fourth quarter net loss Wednesday, citing hefty restructuring and acquisition-related expenses, as the investment dealer also reported a sharp decline in revenue.
Canaccord posted a net loss of 31.8 million, or 42 cents per share, on 177.7 million in sales for the three months that ended March 31.
On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported this morning that Canadian retail sales rose by 0.4% in April, to 39.1 billion, a new record, powered largely by auto and clothing sales.
The agency also said that its composite leading indicator rose 0.3% in April, matching the increase in March. Of the 10 components, seven advanced in March.
U.S. stocks also fell Wednesday on news of the slowdown in Asian economies, as well as concerns that Greece may leave the euro, and as some of the US' largest technology companies posted big losses.
Most recently, the Dow Jones industrial Average plunged 177.59 points, or 1.42%, the S&P 500 was down 18.25 points, or 1.39% and the Nasdaq shed 40.18 points, or 1.42%.
As worries over Greece leaving the eurozone continue to rise, Greece's finance ministry Wednesday denied that a teleconference of the Eurogroup Working Group had agreed that each euro zone country should prepare contingency plans in case Greece leaves the bloc.
There had been hopes ahead of the meeting Wednesday that leaders would take some action to contain the worsening government debt crisis, but hopes fizzled as Germany continued to refuse the idea of jointly-issued eurobonds that could help mitigate the crisis by spreading debt risk across the single currency zone.
European leaders are meeting to find a way to keep the region's debt crisis from spiraling out of control and are seeking ways to promote jobs and growth.
There was a bright side in US economic news, however, as reports came out saying new single-family home sales rose solidly in April and prices pushed higher, offering further evidence the housing market was turning the corner.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday sales increased 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted 343,000-unit annual rate after a 332,000-unit pace in March.
In US corporate news, newly-listed social network Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is facing several class-action lawsuits claiming that information was hidden from shareholders regarding the company's weakened growth forecasts ahead of its 16-billion initial public offering (IPO) last week.
Investigators are also looking into whether Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter for Facebook's initial public offering last week, selectively shared a negative assessment of the social network with major clients ahead of the IPO.
Shares in computer maker Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) tumbled in trading as sales and earnings declined and it forecast lower-than-expected revenues in the current quarter. Sales in the three months to May 4 were four per cent lower than a year ago at US14.4 billion.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), meanwhile, will announce quarterly earnings after the bell in Wednesday's session. The Palo Alto company is expected to announce a wave of layoffs that could total 35,000 employees, or about 10 percent of its workforce.
Closeout retailer Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) announced fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday which fell short of Street forecasts as it cut its full-year guidance on lackluster US sales. For the quarter that ended April 28, net sales rose to 1.29 billion from 1.22 billion a year earlier.
European markets finished sharply lower today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 was down 2.62% while Britain's FTSE 100 was off 2.53%, and Germany's DAX was lower by 2.33%.