STOCK MARKETS — Toronto market eases after previous week’s record

The Toronto Stock Exchange backed off slightly from last week’s record-high levels. For the report period ended Dec. 12, the TSE 300 composite index retreated 18.86 points or 0.4% to 4,703.67.

The Canadian dollar fell against most major foreign currencies, with the exception of the French franc. At presstime, the loony was trading at US72.66, down 0.6 on the week. The fall in the dollar sparked an increase in rates at the weekly Treasury bill auction, where 90-day yields went up to 5.969% from 5.827%. The bank rate moved up 14 basis points to 6.22%.

London bullion markets had a relatively quiet week, with gold advancing 50 to US$388.10 per oz. at the morning fix on Dec. 13. Platinum lost 75 on the week, and was fixed at US$413.25 per oz. Silver fell 10 to US$5.16.

The gold stocks continued to run up, with the TSE gold and precious metals sub-index reaching 10,905.20 on Dec. 8 before settling at 10,737.30 on Dec. 12 — a 41.92-point gain, or 0.4% of value.

Placer Dome was the most active issue, up 38 to $35. Barrick Gold was off 12 to $37. Other heavily traded golds were: Kinross Gold, up 12 to $11.25; Echo Bay Mines, down 12 to $14.75; and Cambior, up 50 to $15.88. TVX Gold, at $9.38, and Teck B, at $26, were both unchanged but actively traded.

The London Metal Exchange had a quiet week, too, as base metal prices moved little. Nickel, at US$3.69 per lb., was 8 higher.

The TSE metals and minerals subindex lost 2.3% of its value, closing the report period at 5,089.87, off 121.20 points for the week. Cameco, unchanged at $50, had the highest volume, dethroning Inco; the big nickel producer was still heavily traded, losing 50 to close Dec. 12 at $48.38.

Falconbridge closed at $31.12, down 12, and Noranda was up 25 to $28.88.

Royalty companies Franco-Nevada Mining and Euro-Nevada Mining announced they would proceed with legal actions to protect their interests in unpatented claims held by the Midas joint venture in northern Nevada. Euro shares shed 63 to end at $50.75, while Franco shares jumped $1.63 to $81.88.

Franco also announced it intends to spend $1 million to acquire an 8% interest in Toronto-based Queenston Mining, and pay an additional $2 million for three of Queenston’s gold exploration properties in Kirkland Lake, Ont. News of the deal sparked a 15 jump in the price of Queenston shares, which closed at 73.

A proposed takeover bid for Conwest Exploration had many speculators wondering if other bids might be forthcoming. Oil and gas producer Alberta Energy offered Conwest shareholders $28 per share, but Conwest shares closed at $27, up $1.25 on the week.

In Australia, Tri Origin Exploration announced that the recently discovered Tom’s zone on the company’s Lewis Ponds property in New South Wales has a drill-inferred resource. Based on 12 drill holes, the resource is estimated at 1 million tonnes grading 1.95 grams gold and 214 grams silver per tonne, with additional copper, lead and zinc values. Despite the good news, Tri Origin shares lost ground, shedding 20 to close at $1.

In Ghana, International Gold Resources has updated previous estimates for its Bibiani gold project. The measured and indicated resource now stands at 35 million tonnes averaging 2.28 grams gold per tonne. This figure includes minable reserves of 25.9 tonnes grading 2.28 grams gold, equating to a contained-ounce reserve of more than 2 million oz. Nevertheless, International Gold’s stock plummeted, shedding 85 to close at $4.05.

Elsewhere in Africa, affiliated companies Eden Roc Mineral and Marshall Minerals announced a proposed swap of property interest for shares. Specifically, Eden Roc would receive Marshall’s interest in the PRA-51 mining exploration permit in exchange for forgiving a $1.6-million debt owed by Marshall and for 1.3 million Eden Roc common shares. Eden Roc added 5 to end at $2, while Marshall shed 13 to finish at $1.32.


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