U.S. markets down on fiscal cliff fears

U.S. elections results may have settled who will lead the country for the next four years, but that did little to quell fears that a recession could be on the horizon if the fiscal cliff situation is not resolved in the coming months.

Such worries sent U.S. markets lower with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 277 points to 12,815.39; The S&P 500 off 35 points to 1,379.85; and the Nasdaq Composite shedding 79 points to finish the Nov. 5-9 period at 2,904.87 points.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of mining equipment, set the somber tone for the period as it offered the slowest forecasted sales growth in four years. The company said growth will be in a range of up 5% to down 5% next year as the global economy decelerates. That compares with an estimated growth of 13% for this year. The company’s shares were coming under pressure at press time after an analyst at JPMorgan cut the stock’s rating to neutral, due to cost pressures in the mining sector and the negative impact President Obama’s re-election may have on the U.S. coal and energy sectors.

Entrée Gold was the largest gainer by percentage points for the period, as its share price was up 45% to 60¢. The upward swing came thanks to a power supply deal for the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia. The deal was seen as a critical step in the development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, which will now begin a seven-week commissioning of the ore-processing equipment. The main deposit at Oyu Tolgoi extends on to Entrée’s ground.

Avino Silver and Gold Mines also got a lift after it announced and update from its San Gonzalo Mine in Mexico. The company said underground mining development is progressing as expected and drifting along the San Gonzalo vein on the 4th level returned an intercept of 14,768 grams silver over 0.4 metres. The company’s shares were up 11% for the period to $1.80 per share.

Royal Gold is well capitalized after the company sold 5.25 million shares of common stock to a group of underwriters led by Goldman Sachs and raised $472.5 million.The company plans to use the money to acquire more gold royalties from developing or producing mines.

And Harmony Gold, Africa’s third-largest gold producer, said first-quarter profits jumped almost fivefold thanks to the highest production level in two and a half years. Net income for the quarter came in at US$61 million for the quarter. But while financial results were solid, the company also reported a death at its Kusasalethu mine after a blasting accident. Harmony shares were up 63¢ to US$8.42 for the period.


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