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A trader reacts as he looks at computer screens at the Madrid Bourse July 24, 2012. Spain and Italy both introduced short-selling bans on Monday, reacting to steep falls in their stock markets and as confidence slipped in their ability to repay their debts, prop up their banking systems and tend to their economies while remaining within the euro currency.

Andrea Comas/REUTERS

Shares edged modestly lower in midday trading on the Toronto market, as a rally in gold stocks was unable to offset earnings disappointments and gloomy economic reports.

The S&P TSX composite index fell 19 points or 0.2 per cent to 11,448. Stocks were mixed in the U.S., with the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial average up 0.3 per cent, but the technology heavy NASDAQ off 0.5 per cent after lacklustre earnings from Apple.

Shares had opened stronger on hopes that Europe would grant banking status to the European Stability Mechanism, one of its bailout funds, but the rally petered out after the release of disappointing U.S. housing data.

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New U.S. home sales in June plunged 8.4 per cent to 350,000 units, the lowest since January, dashing hopes that the housing market is in a strong recovery.

"With the Fed on special alert for signs of a pickup in economic activity, it won't find any in today's report," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Gold shares were a bright spot on the Toronto market, as the yellow metal soared $21.10 (U.S.) to $1,602 an ounce, based on hopes that central banks will undertake further monetary stimulus.

Among the best performers were Nevsun Resources, which tacked on 6.9 per cent, Detour Gold, up 5.9 per cent, and Osisko Mining, up 3.3 per cent.

Teck Resources plunged 7.5 per cent after the coal and base metal miner reported disappointing second-quarter results. Profit fell to 53 cents a share, compared with $1.12 in 2011.

Canadian Pacific Railway rallied 2 per cent after reporting first half results that exceeded expectations. Share profit rose 49 per cent even though the railroad incurred costs due to a strike, tax changes, and one-time advisory expenses.

Rival Canadian National Railroad posted improved second-quarter results, but the shares fell 1 per cent.

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Encana fell 3 per cent after the energy giant reported a second-quarter loss due to an asset write down caused by low natural gas prices.

In the U.S., Apple reported one of its rare earnings misses and dropped 4.7 per cent. The technology consumer products company had lower than expected sales due to slowing global growth.

Radioshack shocked the market by posting a surprise second-quarter loss. The electronics retailer also suspended its dividend, sending the shares plunging 29 per cent.

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