TSX adds to losses over central bank concerns

The Toronto stock market was lower late Wednesday morning, adding to a sharp loss in the previous session amid worries that central banks may withdraw efforts to help the global economic recovery.The S&P/TSX composite index declined 58.43 points to 12,165.14 on top of a 159-point slide on Tuesday.The Canadian dollar lost early momentum to move down 0.01 of a cent to 98.14 cents US.U.S. indexes erased early gains. The Dow shed an early triple-digit advance to move down 15.25 points to 15,106.77, the Nasdaq dropped 9.07 points to 3,427.88 and the S&P 500 index declined 2.36 points to 1,623.77.The TSX tumbled Tuesday after Japan’s central bank failed to deliver expected measures to ease bond market volatility. Instead, the bank only upgraded its economic outlook.There has also been concern about whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will ease its monetary stimulus. The Fed has been buying bonds to push down market interest rates, which has helped fuel a strong rally on U.S. markets since late last year.Speculation that the Fed will begin to wind down its quantitative easing program has also had the effect of pushing U.S. Treasury yields sharply higher, which in turn has had a negative effect on TSX defensive sectors as well such as real estate, utilities, telecom and pipeline stocks.The telecom sector led TSX decliners on Wednesday, down 1.45 per cent and BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) fell $1.06 to $44.04.Utilities also pressured the Toronto market as Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX:AQN) shed 15 cents to $7.34.Commodity prices were higher but the energy sector lost 0.71 per cent as the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 52 cents to US$95.90 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gave back 52 cents to C$29.01.July copper was up two cents to US$3.21 per pound after worries about Chinese growth helped send the metal down 17 cents over the past four sessions. Uncertainty about China’s recovery has weighed on markets following weekend data showing exports, retail sales and other indicators weaker than expected.“They’re trying to move more to sustainable development, not at all costs,” observed Wes Mills, chief investment officer at Scotia Asset Management PM Advisor Services.The TSX base metals sector slipped 0.26 per cent and Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) shed 45 cents to C$24.31.Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF) says it is calling a temporary halt to its environmental assessment activities for a major chromite mine in the Ring of Fire region in remote northern Ontario. The company says the suspension is due to delays related to the environmental process, land surface rights and negotiations with the Ontario government about building infrastructure in the fly-in-only region. Its shares were up 22 cents to US$17.72.The gold sector was the leading advancer, up almost two per cent as August bullion on the Nymex gained $13.70 to US$1,390.70 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) improved by 51 cents to C$20.50.The rally on U.S. markets has bypassed the TSX, which has been depressed by a mining sector weighed down by falling commodity prices amid a weak global economic recovery. Gold miners have also been a major weight as lower inflation concerns have depressed gold stocks and bullion prices.Energy stocks have suffered because of demand concerns and worries about the future of major pipeline projects such as Keystone XL which would move greater amounts of oilsands crude to American markets.“Until we get word on Keystone and some of these bottlenecks, Canada will suffer on that side.” added Mills. “Really, if you look at the earnings growth by sector, energy and materials earnings growth is negative and that’s the whole story.”The TSX is down around 200 points year to date and finished lower in seven of the past eight sessions.In corporate news, Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) lost $80.7 million in the latest quarter including discontinued operations, down from $129.7 million in the first quarter of 2012. Revenue rose by 4.2 per cent to $884 million. Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada had a 7.6 per cent same-store sales growth, offset by a 1.4 per cent decline at Lord & Taylor stores in the United States and its shares gained nine cents to $16.25.Dollarama Inc. (TSX:DOL) says the addition of 85 stores over the past year and strong growth at established locations helped push up revenue by 12 per cent to $448 million. The Montreal-based discount chain also reported profit of $45.6 million or 62 cents per share, which missed estimates of 67 cents and its shares fell $2.92 to $69.66.European bourses turned lower as London’s FTSE 100 index moved down 0.63 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX dipped 1.09 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 was down 0.38 per cent. read more

Amid fighting in Liberia hundreds of refugees return to Côte dIvoire UN

Saying the desperate refugees are “caught between a rock and a hard place,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported this development after a “protection team” returned from a visit to the frontier area between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, which had been out of reach in recent weeks.At one small frontier post at Nero village – west of the southern Ivoirian town of Tabou – an estimated 50 to 60 civilians were crossing back into Côte d’Ivoire each day. UNHCR said those on the move are a mixture of Ivoirian civilians, Liberian refugees who fled the Ivoirian crisis in recent months, and guest workers from Mali and Burkina Faso.Liberian border officials told the UN agency that in recent days, several hundred civilians had passed through the frontier checkpoint, and that similar numbers were crossing at other border posts into southern Côte d’Ivoire. UNHCR has also been trying to verify reports that a group of some 2,000 people in eastern Liberia could be heading towards the border opposite Tabou.Recent arrivals in Côte d’Ivoire said they decided to return because of a breakdown of law and order and widespread food shortages in Liberia, according to UNHCR. The agency’s team interviewed one 26-year-old Liberian refugee who had just made the gruelling, three-day journey to Côte d’Ivoire on foot with only wild bananas to share with her four-year old daughter, because, she said, “there is no food to be had anywhere in Liberia.”But the situation is hardly better in Côte d’Ivoire, where the UN refugee agency has been negotiating for the relocation of the remaining 35,000 Liberian refugees to alternative sites within Côte d’Ivoire or in the region. Some of those refugees – including children – have been exposed to recruitment as fighters by both the rebels and government forces.Although UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have withdrawn the majority of their staff following an upsurge of fighting along the frontier, discussions are ongoing with the Liberian Government on ways to reach the desperate populations. Meanwhile, a new rebel movement, reportedly calling itself the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), is staging a fierce battle in Ganta, near the Guinean border, which has displaced thousands of civilians, including Liberians, Ivoirians and other West Africans. read more