TSX falls as Greece negotiations stall fiscal cliff continues to loom

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was lower Monday as traders absorbed a surprise announcement that Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney is leaving that job June 1, 2013, to take the reins at the Bank of England.The TSX had been in the red all morning as traders focused on the potential consequences of failing to avoid a looming U.S. fiscal crisis at the end of the year and while looking to European Union negotiations surrounding the next instalment of badly needed bailout money for Greece.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 61.98 points to 12,151.26 while the TSX Venture Exchange fell 31.99 points to 1,226.98.The Canadian dollar added to earlier losses. It declined 0.4 of a cent to 100.41 cents US.in the wake of the Carney announcement by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Ottawa.U.S. indexes were lower amid the release of a new report warning that if lawmakers don’t halt an automatic increase in taxes for households earning less than US$250,000, consumers might curtail their shopping during the current holiday season.The study was prepared by President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers.The Dow Jones industrials were down 100.44 points to 12,909.24, the Nasdaq composite index gave back 12.35 points to 2,954.5 and the S&P 500 index lost 10.33 points to 1,398.82.The report also says a sudden increase in taxes for middle-income taxpayers would reduce consumer spending in 2013 by nearly $200 billion, significantly slowing the economic recovery.Traders are hoping to see U.S. politicians make progress this week in arriving at a new budget deal that would stop the imposition of those tax hikes along with steep spending cuts at the start of the year.If they don’t, the shock from going over a so-called fiscal cliff would likely push the economy back into recession and damage what is already a fragile economic recovery.On the corporate front, Research in Motion Ltd. stock failed to catch a lift after CIBC World Markets upgraded RIM to sector outperform from sector perform with a US$17 share target. Its shares were off four cents to $11.57.But the Blackberry maker’s shares surged 25% last week in the wake of other analyst upgrades and optimism about the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, which will be unveiled at a Jan. 30 event along with its new line of smartphones. It’s viewed as a make or break product launch for Research In Motion.Hudson’s Bay Co. shares were down five cents to $16.80 as Canada’s oldest company officially returned to the Toronto Stock Exchange. An IPO by Canada’s oldest company valued the retailer at $17 a share, or about $2 billion in total. HBC plans to sell a total of 21 million shares — about one-fifth of the company’s stock — raising about $365 million through an initial public offering.And Canadian conglomerate Onex Corp. is buying U.S. insurance company USI from a Goldman Sachs private equity fund in a US$2.3-billion deal.The GS Capital Partners fund took the insurance broker private in 2007 for $1.4 billion, including debt. USI employees invested in the 2007 deal, and will now own the business with Onex, the companies said Monday. Onex shares declined 46 cents to $40.09.Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels for a third time in recent weeks to get a deal together to release some C44 billion for Greece, which has been surviving on bailouts since 2010.The eurozone ministers, Greece’s international creditors and the International Monetary Fund have been unable to agree on an agreement.Greece is unlikely to complete its program of budget cuts and reforms by 2014 and is likely to be given an additional two years to reach that goal.But that extension will cost several billion euros more, and it is disagreements over how to fund this that have stopped Greece from getting its money.The gold sector was down 1.1% as December bullion faded $3.20 to US$1,748.20 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. was 51 cents lower to $34.68.The December copper contract on the Nymex was unchanged at US$3.54 a pound and the base metals sector was off 1.6%. Turquoise Hill Resources slipped 12 cents to $7.22.The energy sector was down 0.77% with January crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 86 cents to US$87.42 a barrel. Cenovus Energy lost 48 cents to $32.94.The industrials was down 0.63% with shares in SNC-Lavalin down $1.41 to $40.13 after Swiss public broadcaster RTS said the former head of construction of the Canadian engineering firm has been formally charged by Swiss officials on allegations of money laundering. The RTS report is based on unnamed sources and Swiss authorities reached Sunday would not confirm or deny the arrest of Riadh Ben Aissa.European bourses were in the red with London’s FTSE 100 index down 0.63%, Frankfurt’s DAX was off 0.23% while the Paris CAC 40 gave back 0.93%. read more