Toronto's main market was slightly lower Monday afternoon, as commodity prices slumped and ahead of a busy week of earnings news from Canadian corporate heavyweights.
No economic data or major U.S. earnings reports are scheduled, but U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen will speak about the economic recovery at 1 p.m. EDT.
Overseas, European finance ministers will meet Monday evening in Brussels to discuss a financial rescue for Cyprus.
And, G-7 nations finance ministers, according to a Reuters report, are expected to release a statement this week that will alleviate speculations of a currency war, ahead of the G-20 meeting of finance ministers in Moscow this week.
Gold futures for April delivery dropped sharply Monday, as traders await the G-7 statement on currency later this week. The yellow metal was lately down $18.70 to $1,648.20 an ounce.
Meanwhile, oil futures turned higher on a weaker U.S. dollar, with March crude up 88 cents to $96.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Elsewhere, silver futures fell 46 cents to $30.98 an ounce, while the base metal copper contract dropped 3 cents to $3.72 a pound.
Toronto's main sectors were mixed.
Materials were off, with declines seen in San Gold Corp. (TSE:SGR) - down over 18% after Stonecap Securities analyst Christos Doulis slashed his rating and price target after the gold miner announced 2012 production and future guidance on Friday from its Manitoba operations.
The analyst cut his rating to underperform from outperform and hacked his price target to 55 cents down from $1.50, calling the company's project a "money pit".
Advances were seen in Alacer Gold Corp. (TSE:ASR) - up 3.41% after it Saturday reported that it will pay a special dividend to distribute $70 million in cash from the sale of its 49% interest in the Frog’s Lake mine in Australia as part of a strategic review - which says it will now focus exploration activity on targets with the greatest potential to return “significant and immediate value.”
Meanwhile, Thomson Creek Metals (TSE:TC) rose 0.76% and Jinshan Gold Mines (TSE:CGG) added 0.88%.
In other metals and mining news, gold miner Kirkland Lake Gold (TSE:KGI)(AIM:KGI) says its production results so far this year have come in slightly ahead of its planned forecast to sell between 90,000 to 110,000 ounces of gold in fiscal 2013.
Uranium producer Cameco’s (TSE:CCO) (NYSE:CCJ) shares moved lower Monday, after it reported a sharp drop in fourth quarter earnings as it took a hefty write-down on its interest in the Kintyre project in Australia, and saw lower earnings from its Uranium business.
Advances in the sector were seen in Trilogy Energy (TSE:TET), Advantage Oil & Gas (TSE:AAV) and Bankers Petroleum (TSE:BNK) – up 1.68%, 1.63% and 0.95%, respectively.
Elsewhere in energy news, Caspian Energy (TSE:CEK) has struck an agreement that could lead to a dramatic change in the group’s oil production and financial position. The Kazakhstan-focused oil firm has signed a deal with Asia Sixth Energy Resources that will allow its oil wells to be re-completed, as advised by specialist consultant Roger Nutt.
Financials were up, with the Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY) up 0.54% and Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) adding 1.19% ahead of its quarterly results later this week, while Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) rose 2.76%.
In Canadian corporate news, BlackBerry (TSE:BB) (NASDAQ:BBY) fell 2.54%, on reports that Home Depot (NYSE:HD) has decided to drop the roughly 10,000 BlackBerry smartphones used by its executives in favour of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.
Canadian markets will see a busy week of earnings reports.
Pipeline company TransCanada (TSE:TRP) posts earnings Tuesday. Over the rest of the week, resource giants including Talisman Energy (TSE:TLM), Cenovus Energy (TSE:CVE), gas giant EnCana Corp. (TSE:ECA) and Barrick Gold will report.
U.S. stocks edged lower Monday, as gold futures slumped and amid very little in the way of economic or corporate news.
The Dow was lately down 38.52 points to 13,945.45, the Nasdaq fell 8.67 points to 3,185.20, and the S&P 500 moved down 3.03 points to 1,514.86.
Investors are looking to Tuesday’s annual State of the Union address from President Barack Obama and January retail sales data on Wednesday. Economists expect sales to show just a slight 0.1% increase, on higher gas prices, delayed tax refunds and other factors.
Over the weekend, Democrat and Republican leaders were at odds over whether to include tax increases in any proposal to replace the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that would otherwise kick in on March 1.
On the corporate front, shares of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) were down more than 1% after the company said late Friday that its executive chairman Eric Schmidt has decided to unload nearly half of his shares in the internet search firm, or 3.2 million of his 7.6 million stake. At Friday's closing price, the deal would yield $2.51 billion.
Shares of Moody’s Corp. (NYSE:MCO) rose more than 4%, after taking a hit last week on reports that the Justice Department and multiple states are discussing also suing the firm for defrauding investors. Any move like this will have to wait until a similar lawsuit against Standard & Poor's is tried in court.
European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The FTSE 100 gained 0.21% and the CAC 40 rose 0.03%. The DAX lost 0.24%.