TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed lower Monday as energy stocks again sold off amid another plunge in oil prices and gold stocks fell sharply as bullion lost ground ahead of this week’s interest rate meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 25.91 points to 13,705.14.Falling commodities and a strengthening U.S. currency pushed the Canadian dollar to a fresh 5 1/2 year low, down 0.63 of a cent to 85.79 cents US.U.S. indexes also moved into the negative column with the Dow Jones industrials down 99.99 points to 17,180.84. The Nasdaq was 48.44 points lower at 4,605.16 and the S&P 500 index was off 12.7 points at 1,989.63.Energy companies have been the most visible targets of an equity market sell-off that gained momentum in late November after the OPEC cartel rejected calls to cut production in order to support prices that have dropped more than 40 per cent since midsummer amid a huge supply and demand imbalance.And there was pessimism this situation will change any time soon after Bloomberg quoted the oil minister of the United Arab Emirates as saying OPEC would stand by its decision to maintain production levels even if oil falls as low as US$40 a barrel and would wait at least three months before considering an emergency meeting.The energy sector, which had been up 20 per cent year to date in midsummer, is now down 30 per cent.Other sectors have also been hard hit as investors try to gauge the effect of sharply lower oil prices on the Canadian economy.But the news hasn’t been all bad. The consumer staples sector, for example, is up 35 per cent this year, partly because cheaper gasoline prices are leaving people with more discretionary income. And the consumer discretionary group, which includes auto parts manufacturers, has benefited from a falling Canadian dollar and is ahead 20 per cent.“The consumer segments are going to be obvious beneficiaries over time from the boost the consumer wallet gets from this,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“There will be other sectors that perhaps will benefit when you think about input costs, the industrials to a degree (such as airlines). All will benefit from lower energy costs as it relates to their bottom lines.”Meanwhile, early price support for crude also faded, with the January crude down $1.90 to US$55.91 a barrel after falling 12 per cent last week alone and the energy sector was off 1.5 per cent.Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) was a major advancer with its stock ahead 93 cents or 18.45 per cent to $5.97 amid confirmation Monday that it is engaged in discussions with Spanish oil major Repsol regarding a potential transaction. Repsol said separately that its board will discuss a potential bid for 100 per cent of Talisman.Commodities were also pressured by a U.S. dollar which strengthened ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate announcement on Wednesday. Rates are expected to start rising sometime in 2015 but the timing is unclear. The Fed has committed to keeping short term rates ultra-low “for a considerable period of time” for several years and markets will look to see if there is any change in that wording.The gold sector fell 6.8 per cent with February bullion down $14.80 to US$1,207.70 an ounce. March copper fell six cents to US$2.88 a pound and the base metals component declined 1.4 per cent.Non-resource sectors provided some buoyancy to the TSX with consumer staples up 1.35 per cent, while the consumer discretionary group climbed 1.17 per cent and industrials rose 0.7 per cent.
OSU freshman center Micah Potter and senior forward Marc Loving watch as the ball falls through the net during the Buckeyes exhibition match-up against Walsh on Nov. 6. The Buckeyes won 85-67. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team took the court on Sunday in its annual exhibition game. This was Buckeye Nation’s first look at a team trying to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing the tournament last year for the first time in seven years. OSU coach Thad Matta played all four of his freshmen in a first half filled with unnecessary fouls and sloppy offensive play.However, in the second half, OSU used a 12-2 run near the 12-minute mark, and 44 points in the paint to roll to an 85-67 victory over Division II opponent Walsh.“We couldn’t get a run going because of the fouls. We weren’t as smart as we needed to be in terms of our defense,” Matta said. “The first half was really an odd — there was no flow to the game on both sides … that’s something we have to do a much, much better job of.”When the starting lineups were announced, many could have guessed the starters from point guard to power forward. But freshman Micah Potter earned the surprise start at center over redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson.The freshman from Mentor, Ohio, who played his final season of prep basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida, played 16 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds. Potter also showed no hesitation in his ability to step outside of the arc and try a few threes. He converted one of three attempts from three-point territory.“Coach Matta’s big thing this past week in practice, and also before the game, was to play hard,” Potter said. “I think we can all play hard and do things better. We did a decent job in the second half. Definitely had some good energy, giving some confidence going to Navy on Friday.”Behind sophomore starting point guard JaQuan Lyle — who was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points — was sophomore junior-college transfer point guard C.J. Jackson. On Thursday, junior forward Keita Bates-Diop said Jackson’s IQ of the game and his intensity separate him from many other backup point guards. Against Walsh, Jackson played 16 minutes and assisted on six field goals without turning the ball over.Jackson had one stretch of play where he threw a crisp alley-oop pass to senior forward Marc Loving, stole the inbound pass and scored, then he got an offensive rebound and scored another layup. Jackson also had a breakaway opportunity squandered where he missed a wide-open dunk.“My legs deactivated on that, honestly,” Jackson said with a laugh. “All that matters is that we got the win. It’s not like it’s going to happen again.”Matta couldn’t confirm Potter would be the team’s starting center when the season kicks off against Navy on Friday, but credited Potter and Jackson with earning their playing time due to effort in practice.“(C.J.) and Micah have probably been the two most consistent players in terms of every single day you know what you’re going to get from those two guys,” Matta said. “Freshman, sophomore whatever … we got to look at a guy like C.J. Jackson and how he played and that’s got to become more guys doing that … Does he know the system great? No, but is he out there playing? Yeah.”Junior captain forward Jae’Sean Tate returned to the court for the first time since late February, when he was ruled out for the season with a right shoulder injury. He underwent surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder a few days later.The game started with Tate running the floor, beating his man off the dribble from the top of the key and finishing with his left hand off of the glass. Later, at the 15-minute mark of the second half, Tate intercepted a pass from out of bounds and finished with a dunk.As was the case last year, the Buckeyes’ success will largely be dictated by Tate’s success. He played 21 minutes and scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with four rebounds and four assists.“No question. He’s been as good as he can possibly be,” Matta said. “He’s getting in better shape. He might be tired sometimes, but no, there’s been no issues with (the shoulder).With four coaching changes, a class of four new players and three transfers in the offseason, OSU showed signs of youth, but the Buckeyes also displayed a quick pace to its offense throughout much of the first half. OSU returned its top six leading scorers from a season ago, five of which were the top scorers on Sunday — Loving was tied as the sixth leading scorer with six points.Lyle led the team with 14 points, and redshirt junior guard Kam Williams and Bates-Diop followed with 13 and 12 points, respectively. A storyline that Matta hopes can continue leading up to the opening tip on Friday at 9 p.m. in Annapolis.
Flotation innovation is another hot topic at next week’s SME Annual Conference & Expo in Denver, including a joint talk from Solvay and Freeport-McMoRan. They state: “Optimal flotation circuit performance is an integral part of attaining the highest possible degree of mineral separation. The performance of a flotation circuit is influenced by particle size, water chemistry, equipment, and mineralogy of the ore. Each orebody presents its own set of challenges, requiring a unique chemical scheme to maintain optimum recovery and concentrate grade levels. Creating unique, customised chemistry blends involves a significant amount of planning, lab work, plant trialling, and data analysis.”However, the two companies added that with cooperation between metallurgical and operations teams, such a challenge is attainable. A customised frother blend, OREPREP® F-717, was jointly developed by Solvay and Morenci personnel for Freeport-McMoRan’s Morenci copper concentrator in an effort to address opportunities to improve metallurgical performance. “This paper addresses the successful development and implementation of OREPREP® F-717 at Morenci and its subsequent performance in the plant. OREPREP® F-717 improved froth mineralisation and mobility, thereby improving both coarse and fine particle recovery while avoiding detrimental downstream effects.”