(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks ended lower Monday, tracking declining global equity markets as mounting geopolitical concerns over last week's downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine and the intensified fighting in Gaza kept investors on the edge.
In the absence of any major U.S. economic data, activity was stock specific with earnings reports and other corporate news providing some direction. Nonetheless, several key reports are due for release later this week.
Market sentiments dropped on concerns over further sanctions against Russia after a passenger plane was shot down near the Ukraine-Russia border last Thursday.
An international team of investigators have reportedly landed in Ukraine but have not been able to visit the crash site due to continued fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Reports out of Gaza indicate fierce fighting as Israel continued its ground offensive even as casualties on both sides hit their peak on Sunday.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Monday at 15, 249.99, down 16.58 points or 0.11 percent. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,266.37 and a low of 15,208.84.
On Friday, the index closed higher, little impacted by the geopolitical tensions in eastern Ukraine following the downing of a Malaysian Airliner that killed all 298 people on board.
Crude oil ended sharply higher on lingering concerns over supply disruption with investors focused on escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine following a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet crash and developments in Gaza.
The Energy Index dropped 0.41 percent, although U.S. crude oil futures for August delivery surged $1.46 or 1.4 percent to close at $104.59 a barrel Monday on the Nymex.
Among energy stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) added 1.83 percent, Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) shed 1.31 percent, Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) fell 0.07 percent, and Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE.TO) dropped 1.02 percent.
Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) shed 0.56 percent after reportedly planning to sell its Deep Panuke natural gas project by the end of this year.
The Financial Index slipped 0.09 percent with Toronto-Dominion Bank down 0.09 percent, National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) down 0.13 percent, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) down 0.27 percent, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 0.31 percent, and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) down 0.17 percent.
The Capped Healthcare Index gained 1.26 percent with Catamaran Corp. (CCT.TO) gaining 0.30 percent and Extendicare (EXE.TO) up 0.55 percent.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX.TO) added 2.94 percent after having complained to U.S. and Canadian regulators that rival Allergan has made false statements about Bausch & Lomb sales.
Gold futures ended higher on its safe haven appeal with investors shunning riskier assets amid mounting worries over tensions in Ukraine, Israel and the Middle East.
Global Gold Index ended flat, with gold futures for August delivery gaining $4.50 or 0.3 percent to close at $1,313.90 an ounce Monday on the Nymex.
Among gold stocks, Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) gained 0.67 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) up 0.22 percent, and Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) down 0.53 percent.
The Capped Materials Index dropped 0.11 percent on gold mining stocks, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) moving up 0.98 percent.
The Diversified Metals & Mining Index gained 0.68 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) up 0.33 percent, Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) up 0.55 percent, and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) up 0.56 percent.
The Information Technology Index dropped 0.51 percent with BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) down 0.28 percent, CGI Group Inc. (GIB.A.TO) down 1.30 percent.
The Capped Industrials Index inched up 0.05 percent, with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP: TO) up 0.30 percent and Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) ended flat at $3.78.
The Capped Telecommunications Index shed 0.38 percent, with Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI.B.TO) down 0.50 percent and Telus Corp. (T.TO) dropped 0.39 percent.
SNC-Lavalin (TSX.TO) gained 0.32 percent, after an agreement with Stornoway Diamonds Inc. estimated at more than $425 million to provide project, engineering and construction management services for a diamond mine located in Quebec'sJames Bay region.
BlackBerry Ltd. (BB.TO) shed 0.28 percent after announcing Monday the appointment of Marty Beard as its Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Beard was Chairman and CEO of LiveOps, Inc., a provider of cloud applications for customer service.0020
In economic news, a report from Ernst & Young estimates the U.K. economy to post the strongest growth among the G7 nations as investment from firms is set to surprise on the upside. The think tank projects 3.1 percent growth for this year, which is higher than the 2.9 percent predicted in the previous forecast.
Nonetheless, the GDP growth is expected to slow down to 2.5 percent in 2015 with the marginal slowdown in spending and investment. For 2016, growth is estimated to be 2.3 percent. The official preliminary estimate of GDP growth for the second quarter is scheduled for release on July 25.
Investors will be looking ahead to some crucial U.S. economic reports this week, including the data on existing and new home sales data for June and the weekly jobless claims data, as well as the Labor Department's consumer price inflation data.
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