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(Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
(Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The close: TSX ends lower in choppy trade, Dow up Add to ...

Declines in the tech sector and weakness in the mining sector left the Toronto stock market little changed at the end of a volatile session Monday.

The S&P/TSX composite index gave up early gains to lose 2.66 points to 14,530.91.

Part of the reason for the subpar performance in the mining group came from Barrick Gold after merger talks between the Canadian company (TSX:ABX) and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) broke off. The news came two days before Barrick’s annual meeting, when company chairman and industry legend Peter Munk is expected to step down. Barrick shares lost 62 cents to $19.12.

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The Canadian dollar was up 0.09 of a cent to 90.7 cents US.

It was a volatile session for New York markets as well, with the Dow Jones industrials registering a triple- digit advance, then going into negative territory at mid-afternoon before ending the day up 87.28 points at 16,448.74.

The Nasdaq finished well off its worst levels for the day and slipped 1.16 points to 4,074.4 as some of the biggest tech names registered declines with Amazon, Facebook and Netflix all down around 2.5 per cent

After snapping up tech stocks last year, investors have spent most of 2014 punishing them. The Nasdaq is down three per cent in April.

“The froth is finally burning off in some of these sectors, like technology,” said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial in New York.

“Investors want to rely more on fundamentals and it’s hard to justify some of these valuations.”

Negative sentiment also spread to the TSX tech sector, down almost one per cent with Constellation Software (TSX:CSU) down 3.4 per cent at $253.03.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.03 points to 1,869.43.

Investors also focused on rising tensions in the crisis over Ukraine.

On Monday, the U.S. government imposed sanctions against seven Russian government officials and 17 companies with links to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

The White House says the penalties were being levied because it says Russia has failed to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

Corporate earnings will help set the tone on markets this coming week.

In Canada, Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO), Suncor (TSX:SU) Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) are expected to report results.

The energy sector is the best-performing group on the TSX year to date, up about 15 per cent.

“I see some good, positive results,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investment.

“Oil prices have remained relatively high, I think our discount relative to U.S. oil has diminished, which should help out the oilsands producers.”

On Monday, Precision Drilling (TSX:PD) reported first-quarter net earnings of $102 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, up from $93 million, or 33 cents per diluted share a year ago. Revenues increased 13 per cent to $672 million, mainly due to higher pricing and drilling activity in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere. Its shares slipped 14 cents to $13.70.

On the commodity markets, June crude in New York added 24 cents to US$100.84 a barrel and the TSX energy sector gained 0.10 per cent.

The gold sector led decliners, down 2.13 per cent as June bullion lost $1.80 to US$1,299 an ounce.

The base metals sector declined 1.62 per cent as July copper was unchanged at US$3.09 a pound.

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