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File photo of a Niko Resources drilling platform.
File photo of a Niko Resources drilling platform.

At the open: TSX loses ground Add to ...

The TSX opened lower Thursday as investors were on edge amid some weak U.S. data and growing skepticism that a meeting of eurozone leaders in Brussels will produce a meaningful solution to the region’s growing debt crisis.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved down 37.47 points to 11,373.47. The TSX Venture Exchange added 1.35 points to 1,172.78.

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The Canadian dollar lost 0.53 of a cent to 96.98 cents U.S. as traders flock to less risky assets amid the EU uncertainty.

Investors are also awaiting first-quarter earnings from Research In Motion, which are widely expected to show more problems ahead for the BlackBerry maker.

The Waterloo, Ont.,-based company will unveil its earnings after markets close and they are not expected to look pretty. Chief executive Thorsten Heins has indicated RIM will book an operating loss for the three-month period, though he has not provided specifics. RIM shares were little changed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in early trading, up one cent to $9.45.

Shaw Communications Inc. reported a profit of $248-million, or 53 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter, a 22 per cent increase from the comparable period last year that beat analyst estimates. The cable, Internet and media company’s total revenue was $1.28-billion, about the same as a year earlier. Shaw shares fell two cents to $19.34.

Niko Resources Ltd. is reporting a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of US$183.3-million or $3.55 per share, compared with a net profit of $6.2 million or 12 cents per share in the same 2011 period. Oil and natural gas revenue fell to $71.4 million from $94.2 million. Niko stock rose 12 cents to $11.97.

The August crude contract lost 60 cents to $79.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The energy sector was the only index in positive territory, up 1.4 per cent in morning trading after news of a major takeover deal.

Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company, Petronas, is offering $5.5-billion to buy Progress Energy Resources Corp., its partner in an effort to tap Canadian natural gas for export by ship from British Columbia. Progress shares jumped 75 per cent, or $8.61, to $20.16.

The August gold contract fell $13.80 to US$1,564.60 an ounce, while the July copper contract lost a penny to US$3.33 a po und.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 31.95 points to 11,378.99 and the S&P 500 fell 10.44 points at 1,321.41, while the Nasdaq dropped 30.88 points to 2,844.44.

In the U.S. the Commerce Department said that the overall economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent in the January-March quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity, grew at only a 2.5 per cent rate, below estimates of 2.7 per cent, while business investment was stronger.

The U.S. Labor Department said that weekly applications for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, down from 392,000 the previous week. However, the four-week average, which is considered a more reliable barometer because it is less volatile, was mostly unchanged at 386,750.

And in Canadian economic news, Statistics Canada said average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose to $896.63 in April, up one per cent from March. It added that earnings increased by 3.1 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

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