TSX closes lower, early enthusiasm for Cypriot bailout deal evaporates

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed lower Monday as earlier relief over a bailout deal for Cyprus faded.

The S&P/TSX composite index finished the session down 76.64 points to 12,680.71 with smartphone maker BlackBerry also a major weight ahead of its earnings release later in the week.

Indexes had been higher earlier in the session after Cyprus clinched a €10-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the ECB aimed at preventing the country from sliding into bankruptcy and ditching the euro currency.

But in order to get the money, Cyprus had to come up with €5.8 billion on its own. The bulk of that money is now being raised by forcing losses on holders of large bank deposits, with the remainder coming from tax increases and privatizations.

Losses picked up after a top European official said that inflicting losses on banks’ shareholders, bondholders and even large depositors should become the 17-country eurozone’s default approach for dealing with ailing lenders.

Banks’ owners and investors must be held responsible “before looking at public money or any other instrument coming from the public side,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the Eurogroup gatherings of the 17 eurozone finance ministers.

He later pointed out that “Cyprus is a specific case with exceptional challenges” but traders worry that forcing losses on large deposits could encourage investors to pull money out of weaker southern European economies to more stable nations in the north, like Germany.

The Canadian dollar was also down from the highs of the session and closed up 0.2 of a cent to 97.92 cents US.

U.S. indexes also lost early traction as the Dow Jones industrials declined 64.28 points to 14,447.75, the Nasdaq was down 9.7 points at 3,235.3 and the S&P 500 index dipped 5.2 points to 1,551.69.

The focus will likely remain on developments surrounding Cyprus for awhile yet. In particular, investors will be interested to see the level of withdrawals from the country’s banks when they reopen. That had been scheduled for Tuesday.

A longer-lasting concern though is how the Cyprus deal plays out in other countries, notably those at the forefront of Europe’s debt crisis. Analysts warned there is still a risk of contagion spreading to other weak eurozone countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece.

Anthony Conroy, head trader at ConvergEx Group, which provides technology to support big traders like investment advisers and hedge funds, said that traders expect more turbulence from Europe before the crisis has been resolved.

“I think there’s more to come,” he said.

“When you have concern, you have volatility, and you’re seeing volatility in here,” he said.

Shares in smartphone maker BlackBerry (TSX:BB) fell for a second session in a row ahead of the release of its quarterly earnings on Thursday. Its stock was off session lows but still down 68 cents, or 4.48 per cent, to $14.51 on top of an eight per cent slide Friday as the smartphone maker’s new Z10 product officially went on sale in the U.S.

The stock also backed off after analyst Simona Jankowski at Goldman Sachs downgraded BlackBerry to neutral. In a note to clients, Jankowski said her firm’s research indicated a “disappointing” U.S. launch for the Z10 “with limited marketing and tepid sell-through at AT&T and Best Buy stores alike.”

The company’s fourth-quarter earnings give a glimpse into how well the smartphones are selling in Canada, the U.K. and India, though details on its U.S. launch and other markets won’t be part of the financial report until the next earnings period.

“On balance, I think the numbers will be pretty decent — it’s going to be a loss, which is not unexpected but the sales numbers are going to be the story here,” said Bob Gorman, chief portfolio strategist at TD Waterhouse.

“We have had mixed sentiment with respect to very very early responses. I don’t think you’re going to see anything conclusive there until the keyboard equipped device comes out a little later on.”

Elsewhere on the TSX, the base metals sector led decliners, down 1.76 per cent with May copper off two cents at US$3.44 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) dropped 71 cents to C$19.41.

The gold sector dropped about 1.7 per cent as April bullion closed well off the worst levels of the day, slipping $1.60 to US$1,604.50 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) lost 66 cents to C$33.67.

The May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up $1.10 to US$94.81 a barrel. The energy sector was down 0.76 per cent as Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) fell 53 cents to C$31.40.

The industrials sector lost 0.89 per cent as Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) shed 11 cents to $3.95. The transportation giant said Monday that it has fully powered up the main electrical systems for the first time on its CSeries test aircraft. The company also says it has completed two crucial wing tests ahead of the commercial plane’s first flight by the end of June.

The TSX Venture Exchange slipped three points to 1,103.35.