The Toronto stock market was sharply lower Wednesday as commodity prices backed off amid data suggesting a deepening economic malaise in Europe.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index slid 112.52 points by early afternoon to 12,220.27
The Canadian dollar skidded 0.13 cents to 101.31 cents U.S.
Earnings news also helped depress the TSX.
Barrick Gold Corp. reported Wednesday that quarterly net earnings came in at $1.03 billion, or $1.03 per share, up from $1 billion U.S. or $1 per share a year earlier. But Barrick's adjusted profit was $1.11 a share, which missed analyst estimates by two cents and its shares fell 74 cents to $39.15. Barrick is also raising its dividend 33% to 20 cents a share.
The base metals sector moved down as prices for copper, viewed as an economic bellwether since the metal is used in so many industries, also fell. The May contract down six cents to $3.78 U.S. a pound. Ivanhoe Mines shed 22 cents to $11.13.
The tech sector also weighed with shares in Research In Motion Ltd. down 21 cents to $13.10. The drop comes on top of a drop of almost 6% Tuesday after RIM unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
In the gold sector, Goldcorp Inc. faded 44 cents to $37.65.
In the energy field, Cenovus Energy fell 53 cents to $35.64.
Financials also contributed to the negative session with Royal Bank down 31 cents to $56.54.
Elsewhere in earnings news, electricity and natural gas distributor Fortis Inc. reported quarterly net earnings of $121 million or 64 cents per common share. That compared with $116 million, or 66 cents per share in the first quarter of 2011 and its shares dipped nine cents to $34.10.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. says its first-quarter profit was down 22 per cent from the same time last year but its outlook for 2012 remains unchanged. The grocery company's net income fell by $36 million to $126 million or 45 cents per share, before adjustments. Revenue was up about 1%, rising just above $6.9 billion for the quarter ended March 24 and its shares lost 35 cents to $32.96.
Paper producer Domtar Corp. announced a 29% increase in its quarterly quarterly dividend to 45 cents. Its shares rose 10 cents to $86.28.
The TSX Venture Exchange faded 2.55 points to 1,429.13, while the Nasdaq Canada fell six points to 406.41.
All but three of the 14 subgroups faded. Metals and mining jettisoned 2.5%, while information technology gave back 2.4%, and gold lost 1.7%.
The three gainers were health-care stocks, up 0.6%, consumer discretionaries, gaining 0.2%, and consumer staples, up a mere 0.03%.
Equities fell early Wednesday as a weak private-sector jobs report overshadowed upbeat corporate results
The Dow Jones Industrials fell 28.64 points by noon to 13,250.70, while the S&P 500 dipped 4.13 points to 1,401.69, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index nipped up 2.66 to 3,053.10.
Shares of Chesapeake Energy plunged more than 10% after the natural gas company reported a surprise loss late Tuesday.
TripAdvisor shares jumped 17%, after the travel website said late Tuesday that net income surged 118% in the first quarter.
Early Wednesday, Comcast reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations. The cable company announced earnings of 45 cents U.S. per share on revenue of $14.9 billion U.S. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected Comcast to post quarterly earnings of 42 cents U.S. a share on $14.4 billion U.S. in revenue.
Time Warner reported quarterly earnings of 67 cents U.S. per share on revenue of $7 billion U.S, surpassing expectations. A consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson
Reuters had forecast an EPS of 64 cents U.S. for Time Warner, with revenue of $6.8 billion U.S.
CVS reported adjusted earnings of 65 cents U.S. per share for the quarter and revenue of $30.8 billion U.S. The company was projected to report earnings of 63 cents U.S. a share on $30.3 billion U.S. in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.
A day after a strong report on manufacturing activity pushed the Dow to its highest close since December 2007, investors were hit with a grim reminder of the lackluster job market.
Payroll processor ADP reported tepid private-sector job growth in April, raising concerns about the government's monthly jobs report due Friday.
Fears about a so-called hard landing in China, a stalled U.S. recovery and a flare-up in Europe's debt crisis have been weighing on investors in recent weeks, leading to the worst monthly returns of the year in April.
Economically speaking, the ADP report showed that the private sector added 119,000 jobs in April. That's considerably less than the forecast of 170,000 new jobs, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com. It's also a significant decline from the prior month, when the private sector added 201,000 jobs.
The ADP report typically sets the tone for the government's highly anticipated monthly jobs report, due Friday.
Economists expect the U.S. Labor Department's data to show 160,000 jobs added in April, including 165,000 from the private sector and a loss of 5,000 government jobs.
The unemployment rate is not expected to fall below its current 8.2%, unless more workers leave the labor force.
Separately, factory orders for the month of March are expected to have dropped by 1.8%.
Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ducked down, bringing the yields down 1.93% from Tuesday's 1.94%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices dipped 86 cents to $105.31 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery fell $9 to $1,653.40 U.S. an ounce.