Toronto stocks are on pace for their fifth losing session in a row, as lower precious metals and oil prices put the resource sectors of the market under pressure, as did lacklustre trading on U.S. and European exchanges.
The S&P TSX composite index slid 103 points or 0.85 per cent to 11,827 heading into the mid-session. With the spate of recent declines, the TSX has seen all its gains for the year evaporate and the index is now down nearly one per cent, year to date.
The price of gold tumbled $16.20 (U.S.) to $1,713 an ounce while oil fell 41 cents to under $86 a barrel.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66 points, or 0.4 per cent, led by heavily weighted discount retailer Wal-Mart, whose shares slid $3.17 to $68.14, after providing disappointing third quarter revenue figures, although earnings beat expectations.
On the U.S. economic front, first time jobless claims for the latest week soared to 439,000 from 361,000, well above the consensus estimate of 375,000. The figures were distorted by the impact of hurricane Sandy, but also made some investors nervous that the U.S economy may be weakening again.
Separately, the Philadelphia Fed's factory index fell to -10.7 in November from a positive reading of 5.7 a month earlier, a signal of weakening manufacturing activity and another worry for traders.
Turning to activity in Toronto, oil services firm Poseidon Concepts plunged $7.02 (Cdn) or 53 per cent after reporting third quarter earnings that were weaker than in the second quarter. The company said the decline was due to slower activity in its core U.S. market.
Nexen Inc. continued to be buoyed by investor hopes that its acquisition by China's CNOOC will receive federal government approval next month. The shares rallied 68 cents or 2.8 per cent to $25.23.
Among gold producers, Iamgold continued to tumble after losing nearly 20 per cent Wednesday on a disappointing production outlook for 2013. The shares lost another 40 cents or 3.3 per cent to trade at $11.58. Goldcorp fell 62 cents or 1.5 per cent to $40.66.
Bank shares were mixed, with the Royal ahead marginally, the TD little changed and modest losses at the Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, and the CIBC.
Desjardins Capital Markets analyst Michael Goldberg said in a note to clients that he expects the banks to report fourth quarter results that are "up strongly" from last year, but modestly lower than this year's third quarter, reflecting "more competitive business conditions in Canada."