From North America: Toronto's main market fell Monday late morning as lacklustre Chinese data weighed on commodities.
As of 11:20am ET, the main S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 81.53 points, or 0.65%, to 12,422.09, while the more junior S&P/TSX Venture Composite dropped 9.48 points, or 0.57%, to 1,640.33.
China posted its largest trade deficit in at least a decade in February, after imports of commodities jumped as companies built up supplies after a Lunar New Year holiday slowdown in January. The deficit was $31.5 billion after imports rose 39.6% from a year earlier and exports rose 18.4%, the customs bureau said.
Analysts said the widening trade gap may signal deeper economic issues that China will need to address.
Commodities were down on the news, with gold futures tumbling 0.73% to $1,699.0 an ounce, and silver contract prices falling almost 1.4% to $33.73 an ounce.
Base metal copper for May declined 0.4% to $3.84 a pound, while crude oil for April delivery shed $1.09 to $106.31 a barrel.
In Toronto, metals and mining, energy and materials were the three biggest declining sectors, while info tech, industrials and healthcare posted more modest losses.
In mining, Kinross Gold (TSE:K) and Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) dropped 1.73% and 0.7%, respectively, while copper heavyweight Teck Resources (TSE:TCK.B) retreated 2.52%. Lundin Mining (TSE:LUN) declined 1.44%.
Among energy, Suncor (TSE:SU) lost 1.64% while Canadian Natural Resources (TSE:CNQ) shed 2.73%.
Turning to info tech, Research In Motion (TSE:RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM) dropped 1.93%.
Financials were also down a slight 0.2%, as Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY) was in the red by 0.5%.
In corporate news, The Sunday Telegraph in the UK reported that Viterra (TSE:VT), Canada’s largest publicly-traded grain handler, received a C$5.5 billion offer from Swiss commodities trader Glencore. The news sent Viterra's stock up another 3% after gaining 24% on Friday when it confirmed that it received expressions of interest from third parties.
Glencore declined to provide any comment on the reports.
Caledonia Mining Corporation (TSE: CAL) (OTCQX: CALVF) (AIM: CMCL) saw its shares rally more than 14% after it announces results from its 2011 exploration program at its Nama copper-cobalt project in Zambia. The company said that a new mineralized copper zone was identified, with an estimated weighted average copper grade of 0.47%, and an estimated average thickness of 41 metres.
CanElson Drilling (TSE:CDI) said Monday its fourth quarter profit more than tripled on higher sales, as the company's board approved an initial dividend.
Enbridge (TSE:ENB) said Monday it would be forced to book a "significant" writedown on its gas assets in New Brunswick if the province goes ahead with legislation to cut prices.
The Calgary-based energy provider said that a move to reduce natural gas distribution rates could potentially cause it to take a writedown of its $460 million investment in its Enbridge Gas New Brunswick unit.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSE:VRX) said Monday it has acquired a 19.9 percent equity interest in Brazilian research company Pele Nova Biotecnologia, for less than $10 million.
Looking ahead to economic data for the week, investors are expecting Statistics Canada to report a 1.2% gain in January manufacturing sales on Friday.